PHARMACY

Genentech announces 12 percent year-on-year profit increase

BY Drew Buono

SAN FRANCISCO Genentech has released its first-quarter 2008 earnings and for the quarter, the company’s profits rose by 12 percent compared to last year, according to published reports.

The company earned $790 million compared to $706 million a year ago for the quarter which ended on March 31. Not including expenses, the company earned $895 million.

Revenue was $3.06 billion in the quarter, an increase of 8 percent from $2.84 billion a year ago.

Sales of Genentech’s top two cancer drugs, Avastin and Rituxan, both rose 13 percent. But Avastin’s numbers disappointed analysts, who were expecting an even greater rise after its surprise February approval by the Food and Drug Administration to treat metastatic breast cancer. The drug was already approved to treat colon and lung cancer.

Avastin’s sales rose to $600 million, compared to $533 million in sales for the first quarter of 2007. The drug brought in a total of $2.3 billion last year.

Sales of Rituxan, which treats non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis, also rose 13 percent to $605 million in the first quarter compared with the same period last year. Breast cancer fighter Herceptin posted first-quarter 2008 sales of $339 million, up 9 percent from a year ago.

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FDA announces safety review of two immunosuppressive drugs

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration issued an early communication today stating that an ongoing safety review is taking place about the immunosuppressive medications CellCept by Roche and Myfortic by Novartis.

The drugs have been linked in safety data provided by Roche to progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a sometimes fatal disorder that affects the central nervous system.

Roche has recommended including this information in the CellCept label. The active ingredient in CellCept, mycophenolate mofetil, is metabolized by the body to MPA (mycophenolic acid), the active drug ingredient in Myfortic.

The FDA anticipates taking two months to complete its review of the safety data and the proposed revised labeling for CellCept and Myfortic that includes information about PML.

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MyInsuranceExpert.com launches in nine states

BY Drew Buono

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. A new Web site called MyInsuranceExpert.com helps individuals and families research and purchase insurance policies, according to published reports.

MyInsuranceExpert.com is available in Michigan and eight other states and hopes to expand to 40 states by the end of 2009. So far, he said the site’s biggest business comes from states like Texas and Florida, where there are fewer companies offering insurance to employees.

People go to the site to receive online quotes and ultimately purchase their insurance policy. But the site also has personal, licensed advisers who work with each client to ensure they have the most cost-effective policy possible.

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