PHARMACY

Jury hits AstraZeneca with $215 million fine in price-inflation case

BY Drew Buono

MONTGOMERY, Ala. An Alabama state court jury found AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals at fault in inflating drug prices charged to the state’s Medicaid program, according to published reports. As a result, the company has to pay $215 million, $40 million in compensatory damages and $175 million in punitive damages.

Alabama claimed in its complaint, filed in 2005, that the companies overstated the average wholesale price of drugs, which is used to calculate Medicaid reimbursement rates to pharmacies.

AstraZeneca said the judge made numerous errors in the trial, which started Feb. 11. Those errors included barring evidence of how pharmacies manage Medicaid drug costs, according to the company.

AstraZeneca lawyer Thomas Christian told the jury in opening statements that state Medicaid officials had a complete understanding of how drug pricing worked. Once a drug was shipped to the wholesaler and then pharmacies, the company had no control over pricing, Christian said. The company plans on appealing the decision.

AstraZeneca is the first of more than 70 drugmakers sued by Alabama to go to trial. GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis Pharmaceuticals are scheduled for trial in April. Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America and Merck’s Dey unit settled pricing claims with Alabama last month for a combined $6.75 million while admitting no liability.

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Eli Lilly introduces its third new insulin pen in the past year

BY Drew Buono

INDIANAPOLIS Eli Lilly today launched its new insulin pen, KwikPen, which is prefilled with the Humalog brand of insulins. This is the third new insulin pen launched by the company in the last 12 months, following the launches of HumaPen MEMOIR, a digital insulin pen and HumaPen LUXURA, a reusable pen for people who need insulin dosing in smaller increments.

KwikPen is now available by prescription in pharmacies prefilled with the Humalog brand of insulins, including Humalog, Humalog Mix75/25 and Humalog Mix50/50. Patients using the original Humalog and Humalog Mixtures prefilled pen do not need to convert at this time.

“KwikPen, prefilled with Humalog and Humalog Mixtures, provides people with diabetes an exciting new option for accurate insulin dosing with the convenience of an easy-to-use prefilled pen,” said Matt Beebe, Humalog brand leader, Lilly USA.

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Pfizer to acquire Encysive, will gain rights to Thelin

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK Pfizer has announced that it intends on buying Encysive Pharmaceuticals for about $195 million, according to the Associated Press.

As part of the deal, Pfizer would gain the rights to Encysive’s drug Thelin, which is approved in some European countries for the treatment of high blood pressure in the pulmonary artery. The drug is still awaiting approval in the U.S. Pfizer would also gain access to the rest of Encysive’s portfolio of drugs.

Pfizer already markets Revatio for high blood pressure in the pulmonary artery and Thelin would only strengthen the market for the company. Pfizer plans on conducting a late-stage trial of Thelin in the U.S. in hopes of obtaining final approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Analysts project the drug could make about $100 million annually by 2012.

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