HEALTH

Alcon criticizes Novartis’ acquisition offer

BY Alaric DeArment

HUNENBERG, Switzerland Alcon has seen Novartis’ acquisition offer, and it is not impressed.

Novartis announced Jan. 4 that it would acquire a 77% stake in the Swiss eye-care company for $38.5 billion, but an Alcon independent director committee called that amount “grossly inadequate” and said Novartis’ tactics were “coercive” and “offensive.” The Novartis proposal would distribute much of Alcon’s value to its two largest shareholders, though many of Alcon’s minority shareholders have been long-term investors in the company since its 2002 initial public offering or are employees of the company.

“Advocates of sound corporate governance and well-established principles of fairness and equity in both Switzerland and the U.S. are rightly offended by Novartis’ coercive attempts to take advantage of the Alcon minority shareholders,” committee chairman Thomas Plaskett said in a statement. “The committee will evaluate and take all appropriate and available steps to ensure that the rights of Alcon’s minority shareholders are not trampled on in the manner proposed by Novartis.”

UPDATE: A Novartis spokesman told Drug Store News Friday that the company declined to comment on the matter.

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Inverness sells vitamins, supplements business

BY Michael Johnsen

WALTHAM, Mass. Inverness Medical Innovations on Tuesday announced the sale of its vitamin and nutritional supplements business to International Vitamin Corp. for an approximate $63.4 million.

The sale includes Inverness Medical Nutritionals and IVC Industries and constitutes Inverness’ entire vitamin and nutritional supplements business segment. Inverness sold the assets of the business, which include manufacturing facilities N.J.

Through the first nine months of 2009, the business generated net revenues of $63.6 million and contributed an operating loss of $2.4 million.

As a result of the sale, Inverness’ vitamin and nutritional supplements business segment will be presented as a discontinued operation in its financial statements for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2009.

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FDA warns consumers about counterfeit Alli

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued a warning to consumers about a counterfeit and potentially harmful version of the over-the-counter weight-loss medicine Alli 60-mg capsules.

Preliminary laboratory tests conducted by GlaxoSmithKline — maker of Alli — revealed that the counterfeit version did not contain orlistat, the active ingredient in its product. Instead, the counterfeit product contained the controlled substance sibutramine. Sibutramine is a drug that should not be used in certain patient populations or without physician oversight.

Sibutramine also can interact in a harmful way with other medications the consumer may be taking.

Consumers began reporting suspected counterfeit Alli to GSK in early December 2009. GSK has determined that the counterfeit product has been sold over the Internet. If a retailer has only purchased product from GSK there should be no cause for concern, GSK stated. “There is no evidence that counterfeit Alli products have penetrated other distribution channels [outside of Internet sites],” GSK added. However, there is no evidence at this time that the counterfeit Alli product has been sold through other such channels as retail stores.

The counterfeit Alli product looks similar to the authentic product, with a few notable differences. The counterfeit Alli has:

  • Outer cardboard packaging missing a “Lot” code;
  • Expiration date that includes the month, day and year (e.g., 06162010) — authentic Alli expiration date includes only the month and year (e.g., 05/12);
  • Packaging in a plastic bottle that has a slightly taller and wider cap with coarser ribbing than the genuine product;
  • Plain foil inner safety seal under the plastic cap without any printed words — the authentic product seal is printed with “SEALED for YOUR PROTECTION;” and
  • Contains larger capsules with a white powder, instead of small white pellets.

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