PHARMACY

FDA finds possible connection between drug and liver damage

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON, D.C. Patients taking the cancer drug Tarceva may run the risk of liver damage, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

Genentech and OSI Pharmaceuticals, which make the drug, sent a letter to the FDA, saying that some patients in a post-approval study of the drug experienced liver damage, and two patients died.

The drug, known generically as erlotinib, had sales of $866 million last year.

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PHARMACY

Bristol-Myers Squib ups off for ImClone buyout

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Bristol-Myers Squibb announced Monday that it would increase its offer for ImClone after the biotech rejected a previous offer as too low.

Bristol had previously offered $60 a share for the company, but has increased its offer to $62 a share, or $4.7 billion.  That’s still far below the $70 a share that ImClone chairman Carl Icahn has said an unnamed pharmaceutical company has offered.

ImClone and Bristol jointly market the cancer drug Erbitux (cetuximab), and Bristol owns 16.6 percent of ImClone’s stock.

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Roche assures flu vaccines will be in stock for season

BY Alaric DeArment

NUTLEY, N.J. Ample supplies of the flu drug Tamiflu will be available throughout the country during the flu season, manufacturer Roche said Tuesday.

The vaccine, known generically as oseltamivir phosphate, is approved for treating and preventing influenza in adults and children aged 1 and older.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers it an important second line of defense against the flu.

“We understand that pharmacists do their best to stock appropriate amounts of antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, for use during the flu season,” Roche medical director Dominick Iacuzio said. “However, the incidence and severity of seasonal flu remains unpredictable from year to year, and some pharmacies may still be faced with greater-than-expected demand during the season.”

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