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Essence Ventures acquires Essence Communications from Time

BY Gisselle Gaitan

Independent African-American owned Essence Ventures has announced the acquisition of the multi-platform media company Essence Communications from Time.

The New York City-based company’s current president, Michelle Ebanks will continue at the helm of the company and join its board of directors. In addition, the all Black female executive team of Essence including Ebanks will have an equity stake in the business.

“This acquisition of Essence represents the beginning of an exciting transformation of our iconic brand as it evolves to serve the needs and interests of multigenerational Black women around the world in an even more elevated and comprehensive way across print, digital, e-commerce and experiential platforms,” Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence said. “In addition, it represents a critical recognition, centering and elevation of the Black women running the business from solely a leadership position to a co-ownership position.”

Through the Essence Ventures investment and resulting incremental growth opportunities, Essence will continue to expand its digital business via distribution partnerships, original content, and client-first strategies, the company said.

“The strategic vision and leadership that Michelle has provided to Essence over the years have been exemplary, and we are thrilled to work with her and her talented team to provide the necessary resources and support to continue to grow the engagement and influence of the Essence brand and transform this business,” said Richelieu Dennis, founder and chairperson of Essence Ventures.  “As importantly, we are excited to be able to return this culturally relevant and historically significant platform to ownership by the people and the consumers whom it serves and offer new opportunities for the women leading the business to also be partners in the business.”

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Rising Pharmaceuticals launches generic Sustiva

BY David Salazar

Aceto’s generics subsidiary Rising Pharmaceuticals has introduced a generic of Bristol Myers Squibb’s Sustiva (efavirenz) capsules. The drug is indicated to treat HIV-1 infections in adults and pediatric patients.

The Port Washington, N.Y.-based company’s generic will be available in 50- and 200-mg dosage strengths. The product had U.S. sales of roughly $4.21 million for the 12 months ended October 2017, according to IQVIA data.

Rising currently has more than 120 products on the U.S. market, with a portfolio that includes 50 drugs with pending abbreviated new drug applications or launches, the company said.

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CVS Health offers 2018 outlook

BY David Salazar

As it forges ahead with its proposed acquisition of Aetna, CVS Health on Thursday shared guidance for its 2018, during which it said it expects its operating profit rise between 1% and 4%. For the retail/long-term-care area of the business, the Woonsocket, R.I.-based company said that it expects low single-digit growth, with expected low- to mid-single-digit growth in the pharmacy services segment.

Though CVS Health said its enterprise growth would be buoyed by growth in scripts and claims, as well as purchasing efficiency from its Red Oak venture, it is expecting hampered operating profit growth this year as it implements its contract to offer pharmacy benefits management services to Anthem, which starts in 2020. The Anthem contract, along with its recent divestiture of RxCrossroads to McKesson, is expected to bring down operating profit growth by roughly 125 basis points.

The company’s retail/LTC segment is expected to grow revenue by 2.5% to 4% with an expected growth in same-store scripts of 6% to 7%. It attributed the projected script growth to partnerships with PBMS and health plans, as well as its position as a preferred pharmacy in a larger number of Medicare Part D networks than in previous years. Same-store sales are expected to range from 2% to 3.5%.

CVS Health expects its pharmacy services segment to grow its claims by roughly 8%, with revenue increasing 1.5% to 3.5%. The company said that revenue growth would be impeded slightly by administration of rebates for Aetna’s Medicare Part D business, which is set to start in 2018 under an existing contract between the companies. It also expects the continued introduction of specialty generics, low levels of brand inflation and continued pricing pressures.

The company also expects to benefit from the recent tax reform bill, which it said lowers its effective tax rate to roughly 27% this year, which represents increased cash flow of $1.2 billion that it plans to use for strategic investment in growth areas as it continues with the Aetna acquisition.

With regard to the Aetna acquisition, CVS Health said that it would be assuming its close after year-end 2018, despite expecting it to close in the second half of the year. The acquisition is also expected to bring the company new debt and bridge financing fees in 2018, even as it uses cash on hand to retire debt that matures this year.

CVS Health also revised its Q4 2017 outlook, projecting a mid-teens growth rate in the fourth quarter and 4% for the full year in the pharmacy services segment’s adjusted operating profit. A better effective tax rate is expected to offset the impact of the company’s suspended share repurchase plan, but it projects earnings per share to come in on the low range of its projections that range from $1.88 and $1.92.

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