PHARMACY

Study: Pirfenidone could improve kidney function among diabetic nephropathy patients

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — An investigational antifibrotic and anti-inflammatory drug could help treat a common complication of diabetes.

Researchers at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic found that pirfenidone potentially could treat diabetic nephropathy, a leading cause of end-stage kidney disease.

The researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind study of 77 patients with diabetic nephropathy at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and the NIH. The study comprised three groups: one group that received a high dose of pirfenidone (2,400 mg), one group that received a low dose of pirfenidone (1,200 mg) and one control group.

After analyzing the rate of decline in kidney function in the three groups — which was measured by the estimated glomerular filtration rate — the study authors found a significant improvement in the low-dose group over the course of the one-year study. Additionally, no seeming benefit was noted in those patients who received the high dose, suggesting that higher doses may not be tolerable in the diabetic population with moderate to advanced chronic kidney disease.

"The dramatic finding of this exploratory study is that an appropriate dose of pirfenidone not only halted decline but [also] actually improved kidney function in these patients," said Kumar Sharma, professor of medicine in the UCSD division of nephrology and director of the Center for Renal Translational Medicine, who headed the study.

The study was published in the April 21 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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Valeant issues letter to Cephalon stockholders

BY Alaric DeArment

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Valeant Pharmaceuticals International is taking its case directly to Cephalon’s shareholders in its effort to acquire the Frazer, Pa.-based drug maker.

In a letter to the shareholders Thursday, Valeant said its $73-per-share offer, totaling $5.7 billion, was a 29% premium over the 30-day stock price of Cephalon, noting that the price had declined over the last five years and that the average stock price in the month before the offer was $57, which Wall Street analysts didn’t expect to rise above $60.

Valeant also said that Cephalon had not brought a major, novel product to market since 1998 and that Wall Street analysts had predicted the company would face tough times in the future.

Further, Valeant criticized Cephalon’s board, saying it was refusing to let shareholders choose and that impediments that prevented the consummation of Valeant’s offer had been put in place.

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LIU’s Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences celebrates 125th anniversary

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Long Island University’s Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences celebrated its 125th anniversary with a founding day celebration Thursday.

The college, originally founded as the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy in 1886, has graduated more than 20,000 students. The celebration included special presentations and a cake made by master baker and host of the TLC reality show “Cake Boss,” Bartolo Valastro.

The celebration also kicked off the college’s $12.5 million "Our Founding, Our Future" capital campaign, designed to raise money to expand research and graduate education initiatives, complete renovation and new construction projects and increase the number of scholarships available.

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