PHARMACY

Elusys scores HHS contract for anthrax drug

BY Rob Eder

PINE BROOK, N.J. Elusys Therapeutics Inc. has received a $143 million federal contract to develop a drug to treat inhaled anthrax poisoning. Elusys will use the money to scale up manufacturing and chemical and human studies of its drug Anthim, a protein-based treatment for inhaled anthrax.

Elusys has competition in the form of Human Genome Sciences Inc., which also has a drug — raxibacumab, formerly called ABThrax — to treat inhaled anthrax, currently under development.

But, last month Human Genome Sciences hit a bit of a roadblock when the Food and Drug Administration balked on approving raxibacumab; earlier this year, the company had logged its first sale in the form of its $300 million Health and Human Services contract for raxibacumab, amounting to several thousand doses of the drug for the national stockpile. Human Genome Science is working to address the FDA’s questions, which centered around raxibacumab’s efficacy relative to other treatments already on the market.

Elusys’ Anthim also has yet to receive FDA approval.

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AstraZeneca acquires Novexel

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON AstraZeneca will acquire a French infection research company, the Anglo-Swedish drug maker announced Wednesday.

AstraZeneca said it had entered an agreement to acquire all shares of the private company Novexel for $350 million, plus up to $75 million in potential milestone payments to Novexel shareholders and $80 million, equivalent to the cash balance of Novexel at the close of the deal.

In a related deal, AstraZeneca will collaborate with New York-based Forest Labs on development and commercialization of the antibiotics CAZ104 (ceftazidime and NXL-104) and CEF104 (ceftaroline and NXL-104), both combination antibiotics that use Novexel’s investigational compound NXL-104 to overcome antibiotic resistance and treat the increasing number of infections resistant to existing therapies. AstraZeneca and Forest expect to begin phase 3 trials of CAZ104 in late 2010 and phase 2 trials of CEF104 at the same time, with plans to file for regulatory approval of CAZ104 in the United States and Europe in 2012.

The deal stems from an agreement between Forest and Novexel in January 2008 and another between Forest and AstraZeneca in August 2009. The two companies will share development costs of the two drugs, and Forest will have rights to commercialize them in North America; Takeda will have commercialization rights for CEF104 in Japan. Financial terms of the AstraZeneca-Forest deal were not specified, though AstraZeneca will pay undisclosed royalties to Forest on international sales of CEF104.

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Walgreens, Take Care Clinics offering H1N1 vaccinations in Indiana

BY Antoinette Alexander

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens, in partnership with the Indiana State Department of Health, now is offering H1N1 vaccinations at all of its pharmacies throughout Indiana. In addition, all Take Care Clinics at select Walgreens stores in the Indianapolis area currently are offering H1N1 vaccinations.

Any resident who wants an H1N1 vaccination and who meets state age requirements can receive an H1N1 vaccination at Walgreens, as the Indiana State Department of Health has recently lifted priority group vaccination restrictions. Walgreens pharmacists in Indiana can immunize those ages 9 years and older. Take Care Clinics can immunize patients ages 2 years and older.

“This flu season, Walgreens has truly demonstrated its role as a go-to, trusted resource for flu prevention and healthcare services throughout Indiana and nationwide,” stated Chris Whelan, market VP for Walgreens in Indiana. “Weire here to help. And we’re proud to partner with the Indiana State Department of Health by providing convenient, affordable access to H1N1 vaccinations, furthering our commitment to helping individuals and their families stay well this flu season.”

Indiana is one of 38 U.S. states in which Walgreens is currently offering H1N1 vaccinations. With more than 17,000 certified or licensed immunizers, including pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, Walgreens offers a comprehensive retail flu prevention network, serving more than 7,100 Walgreens pharmacies and more than 350 Take Care Clinics.

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