PHARMACY

Leavitt sees room for compromise on SCHIP

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON President Bush’s health secretary said Sunday that he does not expect Congress to override a veto on children’s insurance, according to the Associate Press.

Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt said the president will likely provide more than the $5 billion increase over five years that he first proposed, though the new number has not been disclosed as of yet.

Leavitt did say, however, that Bush would not back down despite Congress’ attempt to override his veto last week. Many Democrats refused to reduce their $35 million bid.

While an override requires a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate, the House missed the two-thirds majority by about two-dozen votes. An override vote has been scheduled for Oct. 18.

The program provides health insurance to children in families with incomes too great for Medicaid eligibility but not enough to afford private insurance.

Bush and Leavitt have deprecated the spending increase (principally supported by Democrats) because they believe the proposal could be a stepping stone for the Liberal “goal of government-run health care for every American.”

Leavitt believes that the Democratic-controlled Congress would pay the political price if the State Children’s Health Insurance Program is deferred or stopped altogether because of a political stalemate. Congress has continued funding the program at its current level until mid-November as part of legislation keeping government agencies operating beyond Oct. 1, the start of the new budget year.

“I’m presuming the Democrats do in fact want the children’s insurance program to be reauthorized,” Leavitt said. “Once we agree on our priorities, then the proper number will arrive.”

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McKesson announces plans to acquire Oncology Therapeutics for $575 million

BY Adam Kraemer

SAN FRANCISCO McKesson Corp. announced plans Thursday to buy fellow cancer drug distributor Oncology Therapeutics network for $575 million, according to the Associated Press.

Based on IMS health data, McKesson expects annual sales of oncology drugs to double in the next four years to $60 billion. Oncology Therapeutics also distributes drugs for rheumatoid arthritis and hepatitis C, seeing about $3 billion in annual sales.

The acquisition would be McKesson’s second major purchase this year, the first being a $1.1 billion takeover of Per-Se Technologies, a health care administrator. Both purchases indicate an upswing for the company, which in January 2005 had to set aside more than $1 billion to resolve shareholder lawsuits revolving around a $12 billion acquisition of health-services software maker HBO & Co., which revealed only after the sale that it had been highly overvalued.

To help boost its stock price, the Associated Press reported, McKesson unveiled plans to spend an additional $1 billion in buying back its own shares. The company has already burned through $684 million of the $1 billion authorized in an earlier stock repurchase program announced in May.

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Pfizer hires two scientists to boost research operations

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK Pfizer has hired two senior scientists and promoted a third to help rejuvenate its lackluster research operations.

Briggs Morrison, M.D., a senior vice president of research at Merck, Pfizer’s rival, will become chief of clinical development. Corey S. Goodman, M.D., who recently stepped down as chief executive of Renovis, a biotech company, will become the head of a new biotech center based in San Francisco. Martin Mackay, M.D., the former deputy head of research at Pfizer will become chief of global research and development.

The company is trying to establish a new drug pipeline after having a disappointing couple of years in its research and development departments, which saw very few products, hit the market, while Merck saw a boom in product development.

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