PHARMACY

Keryx to present phase-3 clinical data for Zerenex at conference

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Late-stage clinical trial data for a Keryx Biopharmaceuticals drug to treat kidney disease will be presented at a medical conference in Las Vegas.

Keryx said Monday that phase-3 data for the drug Zerenex (ferric citrate), a drug for abnormally high phosphate levels in patients with end-stage kidney disease on dialysis, will be presented at the upcoming National Kidney Foundation spring clinical meetings in April.

The company announced “positive” results from a phase-3 trial of the drug in November.

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PHARMACY

Kroger building a patient-care powerhouse

BY Jim Frederick

The nation’s largest supermarket chain wants a bigger share of the U.S. pharmacy and wellness market. To get it, Kroger is brandishing a growing arsenal of health and preventive services, and burnishing its image for value and convenience at the prescription counter.

Kroger is the fifth-largest chain pharmacy operator in the United States in number of locations, and filled more than 136 million prescriptions last year, worth approximately $6.9 billion. The chain has added drive-through pharmacies to some 750 of its locations, and opened up and realigned its pharmacies to make them easier for shoppers to access.

“In addition to convenience, our pharmacies strive to provide good value” with a $4 generic pricing program that now includes more than 300 drugs, noted the company. “We also offer 90-day supplies of many of these prescriptions for $10, and we have increased the number of women’s health medications that we offer at discounted prices.”

Kroger also is aggressively growing its menu of pharmacy- and clinic-based health services. Some of its stores now offer a variety of biometric health screenings for cholesterol, diabetes and body fat with rapid blood-test results that can be forwarded to the family physician. Other services include a smoking-cessation program; a 12-week fitness, nutrition and weight-loss program; diabetes education and coaching by registered dietitians, certified diabetes educators and pharmacists with certification in diabetes management; and travel vaccines and adult immunizations. The chain also operates 77 in-store clinics through The Little Clinic, which it purchased in 2010.

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Genzyme’s board recommends shareholders OK Sanofi offer

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The board of directors of Genzyme unanimously recommended that shareholders accept French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis’ $74-per-share buyout offer, Genzyme said Monday.

Genzyme recently accepted Sanofi’s $20.1 billion offer for the Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech company. Sanofi had sought to buy the company since last July, when it offered $18.5 billion, or $69 per share.

Genzyme specializes in treatments for rare genetic diseases, such as Fabry disease and Gaucher disease. It also is banking on a new multiple sclerosis drug, Lemtrade (alemtuzumab).

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