PHARMACY

Cooperation among drug companies may be lucrative, roundtable says

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON Drug companies may find that shaking hands and working together brings products to market faster than stiff competition, said a panel of pharmaceutical and biotech business leaders convened recently for the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development Executive Forum roundtable.

The ability to quickly make products available to consumers will become particularly important over the next decade as patents for dozens of drugs –– including blockbusters with U.S. sales in the billions –– are set to expire, putting a big dent in companies’ profits.

“No one has yet figured out how to reliably identify early on which newly discovered compound will bear fruit,” Tufts CSDD director Kenneth Kaitin said. “This is spurring companies across the industry to experiment with a growing range of new tools and approaches to weed out unpromising drug candidates earlier, speed development and reduce development costs.”

According to the center, run by Tufts University in Boston, the period between a drug’s discovery and its release onto the market takes an average of 15 years.

An example of the collaborations that the executives had in mind was the Asian Cancer Research Group, announced by Eli Lilly, Merck & Co. and Pfizer. Other ideas for speeding up drug development included reducing distinctions between clinical development phases –– such as phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 –– which are a matter of practice rather than a legal requirement, and using exploratory investigational new drug applications, preclinical trials that let sponsors evaluate up to five chemical entities or formulations simultaneously to identify lead compounds.

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PHARMACY

Kevin Tripp joins Asteres’ board

BY Allison Cerra

SAN DIEGO A provider of automated pharmacy and wellness kiosks has named a retail veteran to its board of directors.

Asteres, maker of ScriptCenter, appointed Kevin Tripp, a former EVP and Midwest division president at Supervalu, to its board. Tripp joined Supervalu the 2006 acquisition of Albertsons, where he served as EVP drug operations and drug store division president, as well as a member of the corporation’s executive council that directed food and drug operations in 37 states. Tripp’s additional prior affiliations included National Association of Chain Drug Stores, as an executive board member, executive committee member and charitable foundation board member. He also served as a board member for the University of Southern Nevada’s College of Pharmacy.

“We are excited to have Kevin join our board,” said Mark de Bruin, Asteres CEO.  “Kevin’s wealth of retail operations expertise will be of great value to Asteres as ScriptCenter expands in pharmacy and into the front of the store for health and wellness products.”

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NanoGuardian announces partnership with security firm

BY Alaric DeArment

SKOKIE, Ill. Security firm Altegrity Risk International has signed on as security partner for a company developing technology to keep diverted and counterfeited drugs out of the supply chain.

NanoGuardian announced the partnership with ARI Tuesday, which it said will help deliver its Closed-Loop Protection program to manufacturers. Closed-Loop Protection works with NanoEncryption, in which a special code is imprinted onto the surface of a drug and uses a statistical modeling and randomized pharmacy auditing system to identify counterfeit and diverted drugs on pharmacy shelves.

“NanoGuardian is committed to forging relationships with best-of-class partners in our effort to protect patients and brands,” NanoGuardian EVP Dean Hart said. “We are very excited to announce another such partnership with ARI, a global leader in corporate security with significant experience in the pharmaceutical space.”

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