PHARMACY

Allergan to acquire Espirit; Alnylam and Merck to split up

BY Drew Buono

IRVINE, Calif. Allergan and Espirit Pharma have entered into an agreement in which Allergan will acquire Espirit for about $370 million in cash. Also, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Merck have agreed to end their collaboration into RNAi, a process that uses genetic material to directly turn off genes.

Under the agreement, Allergan will acquire the rights to Espirit’s drugs Sanctura and the newly approved Sanctura XR. Sanctura is a twice a day anticholinergic for the treatment of overactive bladder. The XR is one a day formulation of the original.

“The acquisition of Esprit reflects our commitment to build portfolios of products with differentiated profiles in core specialty markets where there is a high unmet need and significant growth potential. With Sanctura XR, which has been shown to be effective while significantly reducing typical side effects such as dry mouth associated with many overactive bladder medications, we are building a treatment portfolio that addresses the continuum of care for overactive bladder and other genitourinary disorders,” said David E.I. Pyott, Allergan’s chairman of the board and chief executive officer.

Alnylam and Merck have been in collaboration since 2003, but then last year Merck bought Alnylam’s rival Sirna Therapeutics opening up a problem with the original partnership. Alynlam thought it was strange to help Merck and thereby help their direct competition as well.

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PHARMACY

CIGNA debuts online Rx pricing guide for patients

BY Jim Frederick

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. Big insurance and pharmacy benefits management company CIGNA HealthCare has launched an updated version of its online Prescription Drug Price Quote tool for its health and PBM plan members as a price-comparison guide.

The web-based guide is available on the My Plans—Pharmacy page at www.mycigna.com. It offers Cigna Pharmacy members real-time, plan-specific cost comparisons for generic, brand name and available therapeutic alternative medications at 57,000 U.S. pharmacies, according to the health plan giant.

“Rather than relying on national average or regional discount information on retail pharmacy prices, the tool displays side-by-side comparisons of exactly what members would pay for brand named medications, available generics and low cost therapeutic options…based on their benefit plan, as well as the total cost of each medication,” Cigna noted in a statement.

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Rexahn receives patent for Zoraxel

BY Drew Buono

ROCKVILLE, Md. Rexahn Pharmaceuticals has received a U.S. Patent for the treatment of sexual dysfunction with its leading drug candidate RX-10100 IR, also known as Zoraxel.

Zoraxel is a drug that enhances neurotransmitters in the brain, both of which play key roles in sexual motivation, erection, and release. This would be the first drug to effect all three phases of sexual activity.

Commenting on today’s news, Chang H. Ahn, Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, noted, “This latest patent coverage for Zoraxel significantly strengthens our patent estate. When added to the four CNS-related U.S. patents and two anti-cancer patents already secured, this represents another key milestone for the Company as we move forward with the clinical development for this promising new drug.”

The company plans to initiate a Phase II trial for Zoraxel by the end of this year.

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