PHARMACY

GSK signs $820 million deal with Valeant for epilepsy drug

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON GlaxoSmithKline and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International have signed an agreement to develop the epilepsy drug retigabine, GSK announced Thursday.

The drug, the first in its class, is a neuronal potassium channel opener for treating adult epilepsy patients with refractory partial-onset seizures. The company said it had shown successful results in two phase III trials with patients receiving up to three antiepileptic drugs.

Under the terms of the agreement, GSK will pay Valeant $125 million upfront for worldwide development and commercialization rights to retigabine and other compounds from the same development program, as well as milestone payments of up to $695 million.

“GSK is looking forward to working with Valeant to provide important medicines like retigabine to the medical community and to the patients we serve,” said Steve Stefano, senior vice president of GSK’s NeuroHealth division in the United States. “There is a significant need for novel anti-epileptic drugs, as almost one-third of patients with epilepsy continue to experience seizures despite treatment with currently available medications.”

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Court rules that county can sue drug maker

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO A lawsuit by Santa Clara County, Calif., against drug makers that allegedly charging county hospitals too much for prescription drugs for recipients of California’s Medicaid program will continue, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Wednesday.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling affirms that counties can sue drug makers under a law from 1992 requiring pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs to the Medicaid program for a percentage of their average retail price.

The lawsuit, which Santa Clara County filed in 2005, follows findings by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services that Medicaid programs nationwide paid drug companies $3.9 million more than they should have for drugs, while the federal government had failed to adequately enforce the law. Defendants, including AstraZeneca, have denied the allegations.

The appeals court’s decision overrules the decision by a federal court in San Francisco that had dismissed the county’s lawsuit.

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Aurora offers meningitis vaccinations before start of school

BY Alaric DeArment

MILWAUKEE In observance of National Immunization Awareness Month, Aurora Health Care is offering meningitis vaccinations for children at its Aurora QuickCare clinics, Aurora announced Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends meningitis vaccinations for adolescents, college freshman living in dormitories and adults up to age 55.

“This is a great time to offer meningitis immunizations,” Aurora QuickCare nurse practitioner Janet Teske said. “Students can get it taken care of before the hustle and bustle of the school year begins, although we do offer vaccinations all year.”

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