PHARMACY

Drug Fair files Chapter 11; Walgreens to buy the stores

BY Antoinette Alexander

SOMERSET, N.J. Another regional player has fallen by the wayside, as Drug Fair files for Chapter 11 and enters an agreement to sell substantially all of its assets associated with 32 stores to Walgreens.

Prior to the bankruptcy filing, Drug Fair sold various assets at 13 locations to third parties, including Walgreens, which purchased prescription files from 11 Drug Fair locations that are closing. Patients previously served by these 11 pharmacies now have access to their prescription histories at any nearby Walgreens.

“Drug Fair has been a respected pharmacy in this region for more than 50 years,” stated Walgreens market VP for the Northeast, Tim Anhorn. “We’re pleased to be able to keep most of the stores open and continue providing these communities with convenient access to high quality pharmacy services and basic needs. Customers will continue to see many of the familiar faces behind the counter they trust for their healthcare needs.”

It is unclear when the acquisition will be finalized but, during the transition period, the day-to-day operations are expected to be uninterrupted at the locations that are to be sold as part of the proposed transaction with Walgreens.

In connection with the Chapter 11 filing, Drug Fair has arranged a four-month secured debtor-in-possession financing in the amount of $40 million. If approved by the court, proceeds from the DIP financing will be used by Drug Fair to fund its operations during the Chapter 11 proceedings and should enable it to continue to satisfy its obligations associated with its remaining operations, including payment of employee wages and benefits and post-petition obligations to vendors.

In a March 17 memo, Drug Fair president, CEO Tim LaBeau sent to associates, he wrote, “These challenging economic times have affected all of our families, our friends and our patients in some manner. As you have been well aware, our company too has been struggling to maintain its viability. To this end, rather than close our doors like others, we decided to initiate a process to find a buyer for our business who is in a better position to continue the Drug Fair legacy.”

As previously reported by Drug Store News, the two stores in Rockaway and Raritan Borough in New Jersey have already closed. The sign at the Raritan Borough store directs pharmacy patients to a nearby Wegman’s, which, according to local news reports, has acquired the prescription files from that location. The sign at the Rockaway store reportedly directs pharmacy patients to a nearby ShopRite.

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Congress introduces new biosimilars bill

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Members of Congress have introduced a second biosimilars bill to compete with the one introduced earlier this month by Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California and others.

Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., Jay Inslee, D-Wash., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, introduced H.R. 1548, the Pathway for Biosimilars Act Tuesday afternoon. The Biotechnology Industry Organization had announced Monday that it expected the bill’s introduction.

While the Waxman bill, the Promoting Innovation and Access to Life-Saving Medicine Act, provides for a five-year market exclusivity period for branded biotech drugs, Eshoo’s bill provides for 12 years of exclusivity.

BIO, which favors an exclusivity period of 14 years, opposed the Waxman bill, describing it as “filled with potholes,” but expressed support for the Eshoo bill.

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Pfizer granted patent renewal for Lipitor

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Pfizer announced Tuesday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted reissue patent RE40667, relating to Lipitor.

The company had applied for the reissue patent in January 2007, in order to correct a technical defect in the ‘995 enantiomer patent for atorvastatin calcium, the salt form of atorvastatin sold as Lipitor.

On Jan. 6, the company announced that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office had issued a “Notice of Allowance” accepting the company’s application to correct the technical defect in the ‘995 patent.

The reissue patent will have the same force and effect as the original ‘995 patent and the same June 2011 expiration date (including the six-month pediatric exclusivity period).

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