PHARMACY

Glaxo reinvents old drugs in effort to save sales

BY Diana Alickaj

LONDON As a result of a struggling market, GlaxoSmithKline has turned its attention toward reinventing old drugs to treat different ailments, rather than making new drugs, according to published reports.

The company usually modifies the uses of the drugs right before the original drugs’ patents expire and face generic competition. This strategy has proven useful, since it accounts for 27 percent of the company’s sales growth. Recently, Glaxo remade its drug Imitrex, a painkiller whose patent will expire this year, into Treximet, which treats migraines, and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Although Glaxo has found new ways to offset its losses to generic competition, the company still had a 10 percent decrease in profit in the fourth quarter and expects its earnings per share to fall as well because of generic competition and a decrease in sales for its diabetes drug, Avandia, according to published reports.

Shares for Glaxo also have dropped 28 percent in the London Stock Exchange and 15 percent in the Dow Jones Wilshire Global Pharmaceutical Index. Glaxo’s is not the only company facing challenges though, as the pharmaceutical industry in general has been facing a decline in sales, according to published reports.

According to published reports, factors that have contributed to these problems are a lack of productivity in labs researching and developing new drugs, companies trying to target more complex diseases and facing tougher regulations to approve new drugs.

Although Glaxo has been undergoing rough changes Glaxo’s chief executive officer, Jean Pierre Garnier feels that there will be a positive change in later years. “When we get around to 2011 and 2012, we’ll be in a much stronger situation,” he said. “We’ll have fewer products going generic and more in terms of new products.’ An example of its hope for positive change is Glaxo’s recent approval from the FDA for a new breast cancer drug and a vaccine used to fight rotavirus.

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Analysis shows pain reduction for fibromyalgia patients using Lyrica

BY Diana Alickaj

CHICAGO A pooled analysis presented at the annual Academy of Neurology meeting reports that Pfizer’s Lyrica reduced pain in patients with fibromyalgia, whether or not they experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression.

The results were determined by analysis of data from three clinical trials that used a placebo as a control ranging from eight weeks, to 13 weeks and finally 14 weeks in more than 2,000 patients that had fibromyalgia. According to published reports, they also studied different dosages given to patients and where asked to measure their pain from a scale of zero to 10. The analysis confirmed that pain reduction was the greatest change in patients who used the drug regardless of whether they still had feelings of depression or anxiety.

According to published reports, Fibromyalgia is the most common, chronic pain condition in the United States, and patients who have it usually experience symptoms of poor sleep, stiffness and fatigue.

According to Dr. Lesly Arnold, one the authors of the study and associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, “The data showed that Lyrica reduced fibromyalgia pain, and alleviating that pain was associated with patients’ overall feeling of well-being. Understandably, many patients with a chronic pain condition, such as fibromyalgia, also experience depression and anxiety, and importantly we found that Lyrica helped reduce pain in patients regardless of the presence of symptoms of these co-morbid conditions.”

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NACDS urges Congress to refrain from adopting e-pedigree mandate

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. New federal legislation to require that pharmacies and drug wholesalers establish electronic pedigrees for every drug they sell or distribute would throw both industries into turmoil and add “extraordinary” costs to their operations, the head of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores warned Thursday.

The Safeguarding America’s Pharmaceuticals Act of 2008 was introduced Thursday by Reps. Steve Buyer, (R-Ind., and Jim Matheson, D-Utah. If passed and signed into law, the bill would mandate electronic pedigree requirements to assist in the tracking and tracing of prescription drugs in the domestic supply chain.

NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson responded quickly to the proposal. “While instances of drug counterfeiting may occur,” he said, a federal e-pedigree mandate is the wrong approach.

“Despite the perception that e-pedigree and track and trace mandates are quick solutions, their adoption and implementation would be extremely complex and costly for retail pharmacies and others in the supply chain, and without the desired benefit,” Anderson asserted. “These systems are many years away from full development, have not been fully tested and lack uniform standards and patient privacy safeguards.”

There are alternatives to assure a safer drug supply as the industry gears up for e-pedigrees, Anderson added. Among them: adopting tougher uniform federal licensing standards for drug distribution and using the Food and Drug Administration to certify that manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies follow secure supply-chain guidelines.

“These steps would go a long way in improving safety and further protecting the supply chain by building on effective systems currently in place,” Anderson said.

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