PHARMACY

FDA approves expanded use for Genentech cancer medication

BY Allison Cerra

SAN FRANCISCO Genentech announced Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval of Avastin (bevacizumab) for patients with brain cancer, also known as glioblastoma.

The new approval is designated for patients that have the progressive disease and have received prior therapy.

The effectiveness of Avastin in this aggressive form of brain cancer is based on an improvement in objective response rate. Currently, no data are available from randomized controlled trials demonstrating an improvement in disease-related symptoms or increased survival with Avastin in glioblastoma.

The new indication for Avastin was granted under the FDA’s accelerated approval program that allows provisional approval of medicines for cancer or other life-threatening diseases.

“[Today’s] approval would not have been possible without the dedication of physicians, patient advocates, the FDA and most importantly the people who participated in the clinical trials and their families who had the courage to support them,” said Hal Barron, M.D., EVP global development and chief medical officer for Genentech. “A global Phase III trial in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma will soon begin enrollment to further evaluate Avastin in this setting.”

Glioblastoma affects approximately 10,000 people per year in the United States and glioblastoma tumors nearly always return following initial treatment.

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PHARMACY

CVS Caremark net revenues up 9.7%

BY Allison Cerra

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark released its financial results for first quarter 2009, reporting that net revenues jumped close to 10%.

Net revenues for the first quarter 2009 increased $2.1 billion to $23.4 billion, up from $21.3 billion during the first quarter 2008. Net earnings per share, however, decreased to $0.50 per share, compared with $0.51 during the year-ago period.

Revenues in the retail pharmacy segment increased 13.9% to $13.5 billion in the first quarter 2009. Same store sales (sales from stores open more than one year based on a comparable 90-day reporting period) increased 3.3% over the prior-year period. Pharmacy same store sales rose 4.6%, and were negatively impacted by approximately 310 basis points due to recent generic introductions, while front-end same store sales increased 0.7%. Same store sales for the first quarter 2009 were negatively impacted by a later Easter (April 12th this year versus March 23rd last year), which shifted more holiday sales into the second quarter of 2009.

Click here for the full financial results.

CVS Caremark operates 6,900 CVS/pharmacy and Longs Drugs stores; its Caremark Pharmacy Services division (pharmacy benefit management, mail order and specialty pharmacy); its retail-based health clinic subsidiary, MinuteClinic; and its online pharmacy, CVS.com.

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Walgreens gathers its top suppliers to boost minority-, women-owned firms

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. In a bid to build business opportunities for companies owned by women and minorities, Walgreens and some of its largest pharmaceutical suppliers are hosting a business development event Tuesday designed to leverage each company’s relationships with minority- and women-owned businesses.

Walgreens has dubbed the gathering the “Power of Alignment” Expo. The trade show, being held Tuesday at Chicago’s Navy Pier, was organized by Walgreens and some of its top vendors, including AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Watson Pharmaceuticals.

Also in attendance at the daylong event: 118 minority- and women-owned companies that do business with those suppliers. Those businesses represent a broad cross-section of professional and business services, including trucking and transportation, distribution and warehousing, construction, and printing or advertising industries.

“Each business has delivered high quality services to a sponsoring company, earning a recommendation that could now open exciting new doors,” Walgreens noted in a statement. “This unprecedented collaboration is an effort to connect each company with potential vendors recommended by their peers.”

The expo includes a presentation from Walgreens SVP pharmacy Kermit Crawford and a panel discussion with the purchasing leadership from four sponsoring companies. Participating businesses will have the opportunity to network and share best practices. Division leaders from each sponsoring company will spend the majority of the day meeting with dozens of potential vendors. A total of more than 270 20-minute appointments have been booked.

“Every sponsor for this event shares a commitment to supporting the economic development of the diverse communities in which we live, work and serve customers,” said Walgreens director of supplier diversity Gleatha Glispie. “I congratulate our partners for taking this inspiring step forward.”

Glispie described the Navy Pier gathering as a new model for developing business opportunities for women and minorities, based on “the incredible power of cross networking.” A key measure of its success, she said, will be “to have each sponsor award new contracts to a participating business this year.”

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