PHARMACY

Merck announces plans to lay off 7,200

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck plans to lay off 7,200 employees over the next three years, the drug maker announced Wednesday.

Merck also plans to close research centers in Italy, Japan and Seattle and outsource some of its manufacturing. It said it could save as much as $4.2 billion by 2013 from the restructuring. It already announced in 2005 that itwould lay off 10,400 employees.

“Our current sales trends for key products, compounded by known industry and emerging economic factors, have led us to reassess the environment in which we expect to be operating between now and 2010,” chief executive officerRichard Clark said in a statement.

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PHARMACY

Nerviano partners with Genentech to develop anticancer drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK A company that develops cancer drugs has announced a multi-year collaboration with Genentech.

Nerviano Medical Sciences said that it would collaborate with South San Francisco, Calif.-based Genentech to search for antibody drug compounds to develop anticancer drugs. It is the second agreement between Genentech and NMS in less than a year, NMS said.

Genentech will have exclusive rights to fully develop and commercialize licensed products, while NMS will primarily synthesize and manufacture drug reagents.

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More Americans cutting back on prescription medications

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Economic difficulties are causing more Americans to forego prescription drugs, according to The New York Times.

Costs for housing and food are trumping costs for drugs, and some patients have stopped taking drugs for chronic conditions such as osteoporosis and high cholesterol. Some drug makers have reported decreases in sales of certain drugs, while IMS Health has reported reductions in prescriptions being dispensed.

The Times reported that the trend could cause increases in complications from chronic disease.

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