PHARMACY

Cardinal finalizes breakup plan; Barrett, Schlotterbeck to lead firms

BY Jim Frederick

DUBLIN , Ohio Culminating a two-year, top-to-bottom evaluation of its core principles and business strategy, Cardinal Health yesterday revealed plans for a tax-free spin-off of its clinical and medical products businesses as a separate public company.

The spin-off will create a new, global company based in San Diego, with offerings for infusion, medication and supply dispensing, respiratory care, infection prevention, medical diagnostics and surgical procedures.

Heading the new company will be current Cardinal vice chairman and med-tech industry veteran David Schlotterbeck. Among its product offerings will be the Alaris IV infusion and Pyxis dispensing systems, AVEA and LTV series ventilators, V. Mueller surgical instruments, and products to reduce hospital-acquired infections through MedMined services and ChloraPrep preoperative skin preparation.

Under the consolidation plan, which was first announced in July, Cardinal will retain its $80-billion-plus core business: its network of pharmaceutical and medical product distribution centers and nuclear pharmacies.

“As a result of the spin-off, which is anticipated to be completed by the middle of calendar 2009, both companies are expected to benefit from enhanced management focus and sharper strategic vision, as well as better alignment of management and employee incentives with performance and growth objectives,” Cardinal noted in a statement Sept. 29. “In addition, both companies expect improved opportunities to access and allocate capital, and the ability to make investments in their respective growth areas.”

The breakup of Cardinal’s sprawling distribution and healthcare empire also precipitates a series of major management changes at the huge company. Chairman and chief executive officer R. Kerry Clark, 56, will continue to lead Cardinal Health through the spin-off and then will retire, the company announced. His successor will be George Barrett, 53, who has served as vice chairman and chief executive officer of Healthcare Supply Chain Services since joining Cardinal in January.

In addition, the company announced that founder Robert Walter will retire from its board of directors by not standing for re-election when his term expires on Nov. 5, following the company’s 2008 annual meeting of shareholders. Walter, who said he is “fully supportive” of the spin-off plan, will continue to serve as an adviser.

Cardinal also revealed that Jeffrey Henderson, 43, will remain chief financial officer of Cardinal Health, a position he has held since 2005, and will report to Barrett after the spin-off. In addition, Michael Lynch and Michael Kaufmann will be named to “senior business leader positions” within the company.

Barrett, Cardinal’s new chief executive, has more than 25 years of experience in the health care industry, most recently serving as president and chief executive officer of North America for Teva Pharmaceuticals and as a member of Teva’s Office of the chief executive officer. In addition to his responsibility for North American operations, he led Teva’s global pharmaceutical strategy.

“Since 1996, Cardinal Health has built an industry-leading med-tech business that, as an independent company, would have the size and scale to stand on its own,” said Clark. “This business will be well positioned to deliver maximum value to customers and shareholders over the long term.

“We undertook a very disciplined exploratory process that involved our board, management and outside advisers. The result was a unanimous decision to move forward with the spin-off. This strategic decision will benefit Cardinal Health and the new med-tech company by allowing each business to focus on its unique growth strategies, capital needs and customer requirements.”

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FDA examines anemia drugs used to treat stroke victims

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Use of anemia drugs from Amgen and Johnson & Johnson to treat stroke patients has come under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration following studies showing the experimental use leading to higher premature death rates, the FDA said Friday.

A German study designed to determine whether J&J’s drug Procrit (epoetin alfa) could improve cognitive function in stroke patients found that more patients taking the drug died prematurely than those taking a placebo. Amgen sells a version of the drug under the brand name Epogen.

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Senate OKs military spending bill extending TRICARE pharmacy choice

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Community pharmacy’s long campaign for a level playing field to fill prescriptions for military members and their families is nearing the finish line, thanks to passage in the Senate of a massive military spending bill.

Over the weekend, the Senate passed the House-Senate negotiated version of S. 3001, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009.  The bill includes an important provision to preserve pharmacy choice for TRICARE beneficiaries.

The House passed S. 3001 last week. If signed into law by Pres. Bush, the bill would preserve the right of U.S. military members and their families to choose where they have their prescriptions filled with passage of a newly revised military spending bill.

The provision would extend the current freeze on increases to retail pharmacy co-payments, thus maintaining a level playing field for retail pharmacies vis-a-vis mail-order pharmacies. Chain and independent pharmacy advocates fought a long struggle to have that provision included in last year’s military spending bill, and were buoyed by its inclusion in this year’s proposal.

“We are pleased that the House and Senate have recognized the importance of choice and urge the President to act quickly to sign the bill,” commented Steven Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

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