PHARMACY

Merck enters licensing agreement with Santen Pharmaceutical

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Drug maker Merck & Co. has signed an agreement with a Japan-based pharmaceutical company to develop and market a drug for treating glaucoma and ocular hypertension.

Merck announced Wednesday that it had signed a licensing agreement with Santen Pharmaceutical Co. for the drug tafluprost. The drug is under investigation in the United States and has received approval in many European countries and Japan. It awaits approval in additional European and Asian countries. Santen markets the drug under the brand name Tapros in Japan and under the name Taflotan in Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will pay an undisclosed fee, milestones and royalty payments based on future sales of tafluprost in exchange for exclusive commercial rights to the drug in the Americas, Africa and Western Europe, except for Germany. Santen will retain rights to the drug in Eastern Europe, Northern Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, while Merck will provide promotion support to Santen in Germany and Poland. Santen will also have the option to co-promote tafluprost in the United States if the Food and Drug Administration approves it.

“Today’s announcement is an important milestone in the development and commercialization of tafluprost,” Santen president and CEO Akira Kurokawa said. “Through this licensing agreement with Merck, we are well-positioned to significantly expand our access to additional markets.”

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PHARMACY

WellPoint executive elected as Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy president

BY Alaric DeArment

INDIANAPOLIS An executive from health insurer WellPoint has been named president of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, WellPoint announced.

Chief pharmacy officer Brian Sweet was elected Wednesday at the AMCP’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. The organization represents pharmacists, healthcare practitioners and others who practice in managed care settings.

“Today’s challenging economic times shine a spotlight on the need to justify the value of pharmaceuticals,” Sweet said. “I am excited in my new role to be part of this calling to managed care organizations and pharmaceutical companies to work together for more evidence-based development, technology evaluation standards and information dissemination to patients in consumer-friendly terms.”

Sweet’s term as president will begin in April 2010, WellPoint said.

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AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour kicks off in the Big Apple

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Walgreens and AARP have kicked off a national tour with nine buses traveling to 3,000 communities across the country and offering free health screenings.

The AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour started Tuesday at New York’s Rockefeller Plaza, and Drug Store News got a first-hand look.

The bus had a table outside with free reusable tote bags and pamphlets on chronic diseases, along with forms visitors could use to sign up for the screenings. Inside, the bus featured a small area where visitors could wait before getting screenings in curtained booths for blood glucose, blood pressure, body mass index and bone density. After completing the screenings, visitors were instructed to talk to one of the on-site pharmacists outside, who could discuss whatever conditions the visitors may have had.

This is the fifth year in which Walgreens has offered a health screening tour. Of people screened last year, 72.8% had high blood pressure levels, 13.3% had high blood glucose and 65.9% had low bone density.

To see photos of the AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour kickoff, click here.

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