PHARMACY

Lunesta maker gets name change

BY Alaric DeArment

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. The maker of a popular prescription sleeping pill is getting a name change.

Sepracor said Thursday that it would change its name to Sunivion Pharmaceuticals. The company, which Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma Co. acquired in October, makes the sleeping drug Lunesta (eszopiclone).

“The post-merger integration progressed very smoothly and was completed earlier than expected,” DSP president and CEO Masayo Tada said. “Therefore, in April 2010, we merged [Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma America], our other U.S. subsidiary, with and into Sepracor.”

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Former CVS Caremark chairman announces healthcare venture with WL Ross

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Former CVS Caremark chairman Edwin “Mac” Crawford has joined forces with WL Ross CEO Wilbur Ross, to co-invest in and restructure healthcare companies.

Crawford said, “My team and I are excited to join forces with such a distinguished private equity firm at this pivotal time for the healthcare industry.  The pending structural changes to the industry will create new winners and losers, and I am eager to play a major role in adapting to this challenging environment.”

Crawford was named chairman of the board at CVS Caremark after the two entities merged in 2006. In his roll at Caremark, Crawford lead one of the nation’s leading pharmaceutical services companies, which shifted its services’ focus to the consumer during his reign, thus “[addressing] the needs of both payers and consumers by providing high-quality, cost-effective services in a manner that is convenient, flexible and easy for the consumer to navigate and understand,” he said at the time.

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FDA: Qualaquin has serious side effects

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. Unapproved use of a drug used to treat malaria can cause serious side effects, prompting the drug’s manufacturer to develop a risk management plan, the Food and Drug Administration said.

The FDA said that use of Philadelphia-based AR Scientific’s drug Qualaquin (quinine sulfate) to treat nighttime leg cramps had caused serious and life-threatening bad reactions in 24 patients, including permanent kidney damage and two deaths, as well as reduction in blood platelet levels and internal blood clots.

The reports have prompted AR Scientific to develop a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, requiring that patients receiving Qualaquin be given a medication guide explaining how to use the drug and potential side effects.

“Healthcare professionals and patients should be aware that FDA has not approved the use of Qualaquin for the treatment or prevention of nighttime leg cramps,” FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Antimicrobial Products director Edward Cox said. “FDA has received reports that some patients have developed serious side effects when taking quinine for nighttime leg cramps.”

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