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AbbVie board reviewing merger with Shire

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — AbbVie on Tuesday announced it has notified Shire of its board of directors' intention to reconsider the recommendation made on July 18 that AbbVie stockholders adopt the merger agreement needed to complete the proposed combination of AbbVie and Shire.
 
AbbVie's board will consider, among other things, the impact of the U.S. Department of Treasury's proposed unilateral changes to the tax regulations announced on Sept. 22, including the impact to the fundamental financial benefits of the transaction.
 
Accordingly, AbbVie has notified Shire under the co-operation agreement that AbbVie's board of directors intends to meet to consider whether to withdraw or modify its recommendation. Under the Agreement, AbbVie must provide three business days' notice of any intention to consider a change in recommendation. Accordingly, AbbVie's board plans to meet on Oct. 20, unless Shire agrees to waive the notice.
 
At this time, AbbVie's board of directors has not withdrawn or modified its recommendation to AbbVie stockholders. Under the conditions of AbbVie's offer and the terms of the co-operation agreement, if AbbVie's board of directors was to withdraw or modify its recommendation, the withdrawal or modification alone would not cause a lapse of AbbVie's offer or terminate the co-operation agreement. Unless Shire and the U.K. Takeover Panel agree otherwise, AbbVie must convene an AbbVie stockholder meeting to consider the adoption of the U.S. merger agreement. 
 
AbbVie's offer will lapse if the company's stockholders do not adopt the agreement.
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Reuters: U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments for patent case of $4 billion multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries in defense of the patent protecting its $4 billion multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, according to a Reuters report
 
According to the report, there are two companies developing generic forms of Copaxone, including Sandoz and Mylan. 
 
At issue is a key patent due to expire in September 2015. That patent had been ruled invalid in July 2013 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
 
According to the report, Mylan plans to launch once the Food and Drug Administration approves its abbreviated new drug application. 
 
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NACDS endorses bills to advance patient access to palliative care services

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. — Citing the importance of advancing education and training in the area of specialized medical care for people with serious illness, or palliative care, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores has endorsed three pieces of legislation that would help increase patient access to such services and resources.

In letters to U.S. Senate and House bill sponsors and cosponsors, NACDS expressed support for H.R. 1339, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act; S. 641, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act; and H.R. 1666, the Patient Centered Quality Care for Life Act.

In the letters, NACDS urged advancement in the House and Senate of all three bills in the interest of patients in need of palliative care services.  

“As healthcare professionals on the frontlines of providing needed services to millions of Americans, we deeply understand the requirement for a comprehensive approach to pain management and the increasing need for palliative care,” NACDS wrote to lawmakers. “Access to palliative care services is essential, and the need for these services has been growing in recent years, especially in the expanding Medicare and Medicaid populations. However, access to palliative care information and providers has not kept pace with the need for such services.”

The companion Senate and House bills S. 641 and H.R. 1339 would increase resources devoted to the education and training of palliative care professionals by establishing Palliative Care and Hospice Education Centers as well as bolstering resources in critical areas such as curriculum development, faculty training and retraining, continuing education, clinical training for students and training for advanced practice nurses.

“Providing an increased focus and additional resources on education and training for healthcare professionals would go a long way in ensuring that we meet the growing needs of pain care patients,” NACDS said in its letters regarding S. 641 and H.R. 1339.

H.R. 1666 would increase funding for the National Institutes of Health to conduct research for symptom management and palliative and survivorship care in order to improve quality of care as well as direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration to improve public outreach and advance the training of health professionals. This bill would also establish a national quality of life education and awareness grant program to assist seriously ill patients, as well as their families and health professionals.

“We believe the legislation would go a long way in addressing a crucial healthcare need and in the long term, help improve the quality of life of patients dealing with chronic pain issues,” NACDS said in its letter of support for H.R 1666.

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