PHARMACY

Upsher-Smith gets promising results from phase-3 trial of epilepsy drug

BY Alaric DeArment

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — An experimental drug under development by Upsher-Smith Labs for epilepsy is able to reduce seizures in patients with mild to moderate side effects, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial announced Monday.

The drug maker presented results of the phase-3 "PREVAIL" trial of USL255 at the American Epilepsy Society’s 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, which started Friday and ends Tuesday. USL255, an extended-release formulation of the drug topiramate, showed a significantly greater reduction in the frequency of weekly partial-onset seizures than placebo after 11 weeks of treatment, and side effects were generally resolved over time. Nearly all of the patients who finished the first part of the trial have elected to continue in a year-long extension study of the drug.

"Topiramate is a well-known, effective agent for the treatment of a variety of seizure disorders, but many patients experience challenging cognitive side effects while taking the immediate-release formulation of the drug," Barrow Neurological Institute of Phoenix professor of neurology and trial investigator Steve Chung said. "The PREVAIL trial showed that USL255, a once-daily, extended-release formulation of topiramate, is efficacious across a range of seizure types and patient severity."

 

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PHARMACY

Reports: Patients reported as cured of HIV experience return of virus

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Two patients in Boston whom researchers had thought were cured of HIV have experienced a relapse of the infection, according to published reports.

The New York Daily News reported that the two men, who were believed cured after receiving bone marrow transplants for lymphoma, had the virus return.

In both patients, the virus had been reduced to undetectable levels, and they had stopped taking antiretroviral drugs for HIV. But due to latently infected cells, often called "reservoirs," the virus was able to return and the two have resumed taking drugs for it. Another patient, Timothy Ray Brown, received a bone marrow transplant in 2007 in Berlin from a patient with a rare genetic mutation that makes people resistant to the virus and has apparently remained cured, according to reports.

 

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PHARMACY

PharMerica acquires minority stake in specialty pharmacy Onco360

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Institutional pharmacy PharMerica Corp. has acquired a minority stake in specialty pharmacy company Onco360, the two companies said Monday.

Onco360, which focuses on oncology services, and PharMerica called the stake "significant," and PharMerica will have the option to acquire the rest of the company over the next several years, but financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Onco360 currently has sales of more than $100 million per year.

"We are pleased to have reached this agreement and to have PharMerica’s vote of confidence in our unique oncology care platform," Onco360 CEO Burt Zweigenhaft said. "This partnership will allow us to further expand our franchise on a national scale and provide more patients with the best oncology care possible. Working with PharMerica, we will build upon and further improve the outstanding service levels and capacity that our clients have come to expect from us."

 

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