PHARMACY

AmerisourceBergen hikes dividend, launches share repurchase program

BY Jim Frederick

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. Wholesale drug and health services giant AmerisourceBergen has boosted its quarterly dividend by 33 percent, to 10 cents per share, and authorized a new $500 million share repurchase program, effective immediately.

ABC said it will use the new program to repurchase its outstanding shares of common stock, subject to market conditions. The company just completed its last share repurchase program earlier this week.

“Increasing our dividend and authorizing a new share repurchase program illustrates our confidence in delivering long-term shareholder value,” ABC president and chief executive R. David Yost said.

ABC said it expects to spend approximately $350 million to repurchase common shares in fiscal year 2009. The company currently has approximately 156 million common shares outstanding.

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FDA approves Mylan’s generic drug for treating epilepsy

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved Mylan’s levetiracetam tablets, FDA records show.

The tablets, a generic version of UCB’s epilepsy drug Keppra, will be available in 250 mg, 500 mg and 750 mg dosages.

The agency’s records indicate an approval date of Nov. 4 and that Mylan’s is the first generic version of Keppra.

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Study shows Gardasil is effective in prevention of HPV in males

BY Alaric DeArment

ATLANTA A vaccine used to prevent genital warts in girls and women works in boys and men, too.

A study of Gardasil funded by its manufacturer, Merck, has shown that the vaccine is effective in preventing infection human papillomavirus in boys and men as well as in girls and women. The study took place in 20 countries among 4,000 boys and men aged 16 to 26, including more than 1,000 in the United States.

Regulatory agencies in 40 countries have approved Gardasil for use in males, but not the Food and Drug Administration, which has approved it only for females aged 9 to 26 because of the lack of evidence of efficacy in males.

Now, however, Merck plans to ask the FDA to extend approval to males. As yet, there is no evidence that the vaccine prevents HPV-related cancers in males.

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