HEALTH

EU approves Pfizer’s pending acquisition of Wyeth

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Pfizer on Friday announced that the European Commission has approved under the European Union Merger Regulation the company’s pending acquisition of Wyeth. The commission’s decision includes Pfizer’s commitment to divest certain animal health assets in the European Union.

“We are pleased to have achieved another significant milestone for the pending acquisition with the EC’s approval of the transaction,” stated Amy Schulman, SVP and general counsel of Pfizer.

In addition, Pfizer announced that China’s Ministry of Commerce has extended its review of Pfizer’s regulatory submission beyond the initial thirty-day period. The completion of the transaction remains subject to the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 in the United States, governmental and regulatory approvals in certain other jurisdictions, and approval by the stockholders of Wyeth.

“We continue to work cooperatively with the regulatory agencies to obtain the requisite approvals, and continue to expect the transaction to close at the end of the third quarter or during the fourth quarter of 2009,” Schulman said.

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Survey finds majority of Americans anticipate H1N1 outbreak during upcoming flu season

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON Approximately 6-in-10 Americans believe it is very or somewhat likely that there will be widespread cases of novel H1N1, with people getting very sick this coming fall or winter, according to a survey released Thursday.

Parents are more likely than people without children to believe this will occur, with 65% of parents saying it is very or somewhat likely, compared with 56% of people without children.

“These results suggest Americans are likely to support public health officials in prioritizing preparations for the possibility of a serious H1N1 outbreak in the fall or winter,” stated Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health, the organization which conducted the surveys.

Despite a majority believing that a serious outbreak is likely, more than half of Americans (61%) are not concerned about their personal risk — that is, that they or their family members will get sick from novel H1N1 in the next year. This level is unchanged since the previous poll conducted from May 5 to 6. The current survey further suggests that the World Health Organization’s decision to raise the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6 did not dramatically impact Americans’ level of concern about their personal risk. Only 22% of Americans knew that the WHO had raised the level, and only 8% of Americans said it made them more concerned that they or their family would get novel H1N1 in the next 12 months.

One approach that has been used in the recent outbreak as a means to slow the spread of novel H1N1 is the closing of schools. In this survey, substantial numbers of parents who have children in school or daycare report that two-week closings in the fall would present serious financial problems for them. About half (51%) of these parents report that if schools/daycares closed for two weeks, they or someone else in their household would likely have to miss work in order to care for the children. Forty-three percent of these parents report that they or someone in their household would likely lose pay or income and have money problems; 26% of these parents report that they or someone in their household would likely lose their job or business as a result of having to stay home in order to care for the children.

The situation is likely to be worse for minority parents. More African American and Hispanic parents of children in school/daycare indicate that they are likely to lose pay or income and have money problems (56% and 64% respectively), as compared to Caucasian respondents (34%). And, more African American and Hispanic parents of children in school/daycare report that they or someone in their household would likely lose their job or business (40% and 49% respectively), as compared with Caucasians (14%).

If the outbreak in the fall or winter is serious and leads to large-scale workforce absenteeism, the survey suggests the possibility of substantial difficulties for many people and the economy as a whole. If people had to stay home for seven to 10 days because they were sick or because they had to care for a family member who was sick, 44% indicate that they would be likely to lose pay or income and have money problems, and 25% reported that they would be likely to lose their job or business.

“The findings highlight the important role that employers would play during a future outbreak. Flexibility in their employee policies may help minimize some of the problems identified in this survey,” Blendon said.

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Reese introduces OneTabT dose Cold and Flu Products

BY Anna Mcgrath

CLEVELAND, OHIO Reese Pharmaceutical Co. announced the launch of its OneTabT line with three new OTC dye-free, cold and flu relief tablet products.

In exchange for the two-tablets dosage from the national brands and store-brand equivalents, Reese is providing consumers with a convenient one-tablet dosage, without altering the active ingredients.

OneTabT is available for the same price as competitive national brands but comes with six additional tablets and provides customers with 30 doses per package, compared with the 12 doses from national brands thanks to OneTabT’s easy one-tablet dosages.

Individual product offerings are available to help stop cold and flu, allergy and sinus as well as congestion and cough.

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