PHARMACY

AARP: brand-name drug prices increased 7.4 percent in 2007

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The American Association of Retired Persons announced that drug companies increased their prices last year by an average of 7.4 percent for brand-name drugs, which was an increase about 2.5 times that of overall inflation, according to the Associated Press.

The prices used are those charged to wholesalers. AARP has also noted that the prices have increased slightly greater on average since Medicare Part D began in 2006.

All but four of the 220 brand-name prescriptions in the study had price increases during 2007. Nearly all exceeded the rate of general inflation. Among the top 25 drug products, the sleep aid Ambien, by Sanofi-Aventis had the largest price increase, 27.7 percent. On the other end of the spectrum, Merck’s cholesterol drug Zocor had no price change in 2007. Also, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s blood thinner Plavix had a price increase of 0.5 percent.

In the past, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America have stated that comparing rising drug prices to general inflation is not appropriate and should be compare to medical inflation, which was 5 percent for 2007.

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PHARMACY

Lilly and PsychoGenics partner on neuropsychiatric disorder treatments

BY Drew Buono

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. PsychoGenics and Eli Lilly have entered into a drug discovery agreement aimed at identifying drug candidates suitable for clinical developments.

Per the agreement, Lilly will supply precandidate compounds that PsychoGenics will evaluate using its proprietary drug discovery technologies for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. Upon Lilly’s further development of clinical candidates, PsychoGenics would receive research and milestone payments, as well as royalties.

Emer Leahy, president and chief executive officer of PsychoGenics, said, “We are delighted to once again work with Lilly and play an integral and expanding role in a successful drug discovery collaboration. We are confident that by combining the complementary strengths and expertise of PsychoGenics and Lilly, we may identify a new generation of treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders.”

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PHARMACY

Roche asks for clearance to bring Mircera to market

BY Drew Buono

BASEL, Switzerland Roche is asking a U.S. judge for clearance to sell an anti-anemia drug by offering a royalty to Amgen and offering the drug at a price that is lower than what Amgen charges for its top anemia drug, according to published reports.

Roche won regulatory approval for Mircera as a treatment for anemia associated with kidney disease in November. But it hasn’t brought the drug to market because it lost a civil trial in October in which a federal jury found Mircera violated patents held by Amgen. Amgen sells drugs Aranesp and Epogen to treat anemia associated with kidney disease and cancer chemotherapy.

Although Roche lost the patent trial to Amgen, it is now seeking permission from Judge William Young to bring Mircera to the market by arguing that it would serve the public interest. Roche also has proposed selling Mircera at an initial “wholesale acquisition cost” that is about 5 percent less than the current “average selling price” of Amgen’s Aranesp. Also, it would pay Amgen a royalty 20 percent of net sales of Mircera while Amgen’s patents are still enforced, assuming the original ruling of infringement stands.

Roche said it would begin taking steps to market Mircera if the judge doesn’t rule on Amgen’s injunction request on Feb. 28, when oral arguments are scheduled in the case. Roche would be doing this even though they would be at risk to pay Amgen penalties if the infringement case isn’t overturned.

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