PHARMACY

Merck lowers expectations for 2009

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. The recent weakening of the dollar has lowered earnings forecasts at Merck, the drug maker said Thursday.

“In 2009, we expect strong product volume growth from key products such as Januvia/Janumet, Isentress and Zostavax,” Merck chairman, president and chief executive officer Richard Clark said in a statement. “However, we anticipate that top-line growth will be offset by the effects of a volatile global economy, fluctuations in the foreign exchange markets, as well as continued challenges for certain key products.”

The Whitehouse Station, N.J., drug maker said it expected the rise in the dollar’s value to decrease revenue by 3 percent and decrease earnings per share by 6 percent.

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Fougera endows NACDS scholarship fund

BY Jim Frederick

NEW YORK With a major endowment from Fougera, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation last night inaugurated the Edmond Fougera Scholarship Fund at the 10th Annual NACDS Foundation Dinner.

To establish the fund, Fougera president and chief executive officer Paul McGarty presented a $160,000 contribution to Foundation chairman Steven Anderson. The money, a major addition to the NACDS Foundation Student Scholarship Program, will generate scholarships to be awarded each year to exceptional pharmacy students who have demonstrated strong leadership and a commitment to community pharmacy.

To establish the fund, Fougera president and chief executive officer Paul McGarty presented a $160,000 contribution to Foundation chairman Steven Anderson. The money, a major addition to the NACDS Foundation Student Scholarship Program, will generate scholarships to be awarded each year to exceptional pharmacy students who have demonstrated strong leadership and a commitment to community pharmacy.

“Advancing community pharmacy by supporting the next generation of professionals is an honorable mission, and one that Fougera is proud to be a part of,” McGarty said during the presentation.

“Pharmacy students will play a critical role in the future of healthcare delivery for patients,” said Anderson. “We are pleased to partner with Fougera in establishing the Edmond Fougera Scholarship Fund and help students meet their potential and continue to advance the profession of pharmacy.”

The company was founded by French immigrant Edmond Fougera in 1849 when he opened a retail pharmacy in Brooklyn, New York, and is a supplier of topical dermatologic applications.

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Study: Generics just as good as branded heart disease drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Generic drugs for treating heart disease work as well as branded drugs, according to a new study.

The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was based on 47 studies of nine drugs published in journals such as Medline and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts between January 1984 and August 2008. The researchers, from Harvard Medical School, found no difference in how well patients did when given branded drugs or generic equivalents for cholesterol, hypertension or prevention of heart attacks.

Generic drugs can cost between 30 and 80 percent less than branded drugs. The Food and Drug Administration received authority to approve generic drugs in 1984, with the passage of the Hatch-Waxman Act, though it does not have a way to approve drugs that mimic the effects of biotech medications.

“Today’s article in the respected medical journal JAMA confirms that generic medicines are as safe and effective as their brand-name counterparts,” Generic Pharmaceutical Association president and chief executive Kathleen Jaeger said in a statement Wednesday. “This scientific review is the latest in a growing number of authoritative statements from the FDA and others proving that it is safe to substitute an FDA-approved generic medicine for a brand-name product.”

This year, Jaeger said, legislatures in 33 state have introduced “carve-out” bills designed to place limits on when generic drugs may be used.

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