PHARMACY

Herceptin found to help women without mutant gene HER2

BY Diana Alickaj

WASHINGTON A new study shows that Herceptin, a drug for breast cancer patients can also be used to lower the risk of relapse in patients with or without the gene mutation, according to published reports.

Herceptin is manufactured by San Francisco-based Genentech and was approved in 1998. The purpose of the drug is to block the excess of HER2 proteins that are said to help the growth of tumors.

According to published reports, the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, included a trial of 1,787 women that had an early stage of breast cancer. The study showed that Herceptin did lower the risk of relapse but also found that 10.6 percent of patients with the HER2 gene mutation had the tumor spread, and about 8.5 percent of women with the normal form of HER2 had their disease become worse.

Even though the research is surprising, researchers are very careful about deeming it completely effective. Anne Blackwood-Chirchir, Genentech’s group medical director, said of these findings that “the number of patients are small, and whenever we work with small numbers, we need to question it a bit.”

According to published reports, Herceptin is the third biggest product in the company and made U.S. sales of $1.29 billion in 2007. Stocks for Genentech rose 2 percent ($1.64) to $82.01.

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PHARMACY

ScriptPro robotic dispensing adopted in two Haggen locations

BY Drew Buono

BELLINGHAM, Washington Haggen Food & Pharmacy has added ScriptPro’s robotic dispensing devices to two of its stores, one in Ferndale and the other in Barkley Village, according to published reports.

The system automatically selects a prescription vial, counts tablets or capsules into the vial and labels it with patient, drug and dosing information.

“This system offers many advantages for our customers,” said Andrew Charter, vice president of pharmacy at Haggen Inc. “It is better than partially automated systems in providing accurately counted doses. Most importantly, it frees up our pharmacists to spend more time answering the questions of customers rather than counting pills or making labels.”

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Eli Lilly, Sanofi-Aventis partner to market Cialis

BY Drew Buono

BRDIGEWATER, N.J. Sanofi-Aventis has agreed to help Eli Lilly market its impotency drug Cialis, according to CNN. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Lilly gained full rights to the medicine at the beginning of 2007, when it bought the drug from ICOS for $2.3 billion.

Cialis had worldwide sales of $1.1 billion in 2007, compared with its main competitor Pfizer’s Viagra, which saw sales of $1.76 billion.

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