PHARMACY

Supreme Court strikes down Rx data mining law

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has struck down a law in Vermont designed to encourage generic drug usage by limiting the sharing of information about what branded drugs doctors prescribe, so that drug companies could use it when crafting sales pitches, according to published reports.

The Associated Press reported that justices voted 6-3 against a law in Vermont that had banned pharmacies from selling de-identified information about branded drug prescriptions to data-mining companies without doctors’ permission. Typically, the data-mining companies provide the data to drug makers, which use it when determining how to market their medications to doctors.

AP reported that the ruling could also affect similar laws in Maine and New Hampshire. In his majority opinion, justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the law violated free speech rights, but justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent that the law was a regulation of business activity and thus constitutional.

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Watson to expand Salt Lake City manufacturing, R&D plant

BY Alaric DeArment

SALT LAKE CITY — Watson Pharmaceuticals plans to expand its manufacturing and research and development plant in Salt Lake City, the drug maker said.

The $44 million expansion of the plant will include retrofitting about 20,000 sq. ft. of space and the construction of about 17,000 additional sq. ft. The expansion of the plant, which makes transdermal patches and topical gels, is expected to include the addition of about 300 new employees over the next three to five years.

The company said the expansion will allow a tripling of annual manufacturing batch capacity to support future products, such as the generic version of Teikoku Pharma USA’s Lidoderm (lidocaine) transdermal patch for pain, which the company expects to launch as early as 2012.

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Wockhardt gets green light for three products

BY Alaric DeArment

MUMBAI, India — Wockhardt has launched three new drugs in the United States over the last three weeks, the Indian generic drug maker said.

Wockhardt announced the Food and Drug Administration’s approval and the launch of the company’s antibacterial drug levofloxacin, a generic version of Johnson & Johnson’s Levaquin, in the 250-mg, 500-mg and 750-mg strengths.

On May 31, the company launched donepezil tablets, a generic version of Eisai’s Alzheimer’s disease drug Aricept. On June 1, it launched venlafaxine extended-release capsules, a generic version of Pfizer’s antidepressant Effexor XR.

Branded versions of the three drugs have combined sales of $6 billion, according to IMS Health.

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