PHARMACY

GSK posts Q1 profit loss, points to decline in Avandia sales

BY Drew Buono

LONDON GlaxoSmithKline released its first quarter report recently and profits fell 13 percent from $4.2 billion to $3.7 billion, according to published reports.

This decrease in sales is due mostly to the large decline in sales of the company’s diabetes drug Avandia, which saw a decline in revenue of 56 percent to $376.8 million. Sales for the drug have been decreasing ever since a report published last May in the New England Journal of Medicine alleged a link between the drug and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Generic competition also hurt figures for GSK. The company’s nausea drug Zofran saw sales drop by 69 percent to $57.2 million, the nasal allergy spray Flonase decreased by 33 percent to $90.7 million and its heart disease drug Coreg fell by 77 percent to $94.7 million.

GSK chief executive officer Jean-Pierre Garnier also responded to the accusation that GSK is paying well over the odds, $720 million, to acquire Sirtris Pharmaceuticals of the USA. He said that the premium is a reasonable one, given the “really innovative research” Sirtris is doing in terms of sirtuins, a class of enzymes that control the aging process.

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Schering-Plough posts quarterly loss from purchase of Organon

BY Drew Buono

KENILWORTH, N.J. Schering-Plough today released its first-quarter results for 2008, according to published reports. The drugmaker reported a net income of $253 million, down from $543 million during the first quarter of 2007, mostly due to the acquisition of the biotech company Organon BioSciences.

Sales though rose by 56 percent to $4.66 billion. Its rheumatoid arthritis drug Remicade’s sales rose by 36 percent to $507 million.

Vytorin and another cholesterol treatment drug Zetia, which Schering markets through a joint venture with Merck saw sales of both drugs combined rise 6 percent to $1.2 billion during the quarter. But they fell 5 percent in the United States amid the widely publicized failure of Vytorin to cut plaque in neck arteries in a study for which results were presented in January.

Merck said Monday it expects its revenue from the drugs to drop by $700 million over the rest of 2008.

Chief executive officer Fred Hassan said the company is on track with its plan to cut annual costs by $1.5 billion by 2012, announced earlier this month. About 10 percent of its 55,000 jobs are to be cut.

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Genzyme plans expansion in China

BY Drew Buono

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Genzyme has announced that it will build a research and development center in Beijing as part of its global expansion, according to published reports.

The company expects the facility to open in 2010 and cost them about $90 million. It will be a 200,000 square-foot facility, which will be able to accommodate 350 employees.

Genzyme said it already has 25 employees working in offices in Beijing and Shanghai and has a pilot program for its cell therapy MACI at Beijing Wujing Hospital.

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