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Upsher-Smith inks deal with Proximagen for tonabersat

BY Alaric DeArment

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. Upsher-Smith Labs has acquired exclusive North American rights for an investigational drug designed to treat such conditions as migraine and epilepsy, the drug maker announced Monday.

Under the deal, with Proximagen Neuroscience, Upsher-Smith will be responsible for development, regulatory filing and commercialization activities for the drug tonabersat in the North American market.

“This agreement supports our strategic vision of building a leadership position in the central nervous system field,” Upsher-Smith president Mark Evenstad said. “We are excited about our growing [central nervous system] development portfolio that we hope will provide benefit to patients suffering from neurologic conditions.”

The company is also developing USL255, a once-daily formulation of the generic drug topiramate. The drug is in phase 3 trials as a treatment for epilepsy. Johnson & Johnson originally marketed topiramate under the brand name Topamax.

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Walgreens officially owns Duane Reade

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens on Friday completed its acquisition of Duane Reade’s 258 drug stores, as well as the chain’s corporate office and two distribution centers.

Walgreens currently plans for Duane Reade to continue operating under its brand name. With 70 Walgreens stores in the New York City metropolitan area, Walgreens said it will consider the most effective way to harmonize both brands over time.

Meanwhile, John Spina, Walgreens VP retail integration and new format development, will continue to oversee the Duane Reade integration process as he has since the acquisition was announced. Spina will work closely with Duane Reade Chairman and CEO John Lederer, who will continue to direct Duane Reade operations. Spina’s responsibility for leading Walgreens Rewiring for Growth initiative –– which is on track to deliver $1 billion in annual cost reductions in fiscal 2011 –– was recently transitioned to Don Huonker, Walgreens SVP healthcare innovation.

“Just as Walgreens has been a trusted community pharmacy for more than 100 years, we plan for Duane Reade to continue as the leading drugstore that millions of New Yorkers rely upon,” said Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. “By combining the strengths of our two companies, we can improve our position as the most convenient provider of consumer goods and services, and pharmacy, health and wellness services in the country.”

Walgreens intends to promptly repay or redeem outstanding indebtedness of Duane Reade and its affiliates pursuant to its credit agreement, dated as of July 21, 2003, its 9.75% senior subordinated notes due 2011, its 11.75% senior secured notes due 2015, and its senior convertible notes due 2022.

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Costco sales increase 12% in March

BY Alaric DeArment

ISSAQUAH, Wash. Sales at club retailer Costco have continued to be on an upswing, according to monthly sales results announced Thursday.

The Issaquah, Wash.-based mass merchandiser reported global net sales of $7.14 billion in March, a 12% increase over $6.4 billion in March 2009. For the 31-week period that ended on Wednesday, the company reported sales of $45.2 billion, a 9% increase over the $41.48 billion during the same period last year. Costco’s fiscal year 2009 ended on Aug. 30.

The economic recession put a dent in Costco’s U.S. sales last year, as the company reported sales of $56.5 billion, compared with $57 billion in 2008. But as consumers have started pulling their wallets back out of their pockets, the retailer’s sales have increased as well. The company reported global second quarter 2010 sales of $18.36 billion and sales for the first half of the year of $35.28 billion, compared with $16.49 billion and $32.52 billion during the same periods last year, respectively.

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