PHARMACY

Merck, Schering-Plough to complete merger

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Drug makers Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. will complete their merger Tuesday, Merck announced.

The two companies will begin combined operations Wednesday, with Schering-Plough adopting the Merck name and Schering-Plough stock becoming stock in the combined company.

The announcement of the merger follows recent clearance from regulatory authorities in China, Europe and Mexico, as well as the recent finalization of Pfizer’s acquisition of Wyeth.

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PHARMACY

CAORC to host press briefing on organized retail crime

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON When most people think of organized crime, they imagine gun battles in the streets of Chicago during the Prohibition era, but some of its biggest victims are retail pharmacies.

The Coalition Against Organized Retail Crime announced that it would have a press conference at noon on Wednesday to discuss the role of federal law enforcement in combating organized retail crime. The conference will take place before a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security on the subject.

Organized retail crime involves the theft of large quantities of goods from retailers and the sale of those goods through pawn shops, flea markets and online. It causes losses of tens of billions of dollars annually and puts consumers at risk of using mishandled and adulterated goods.

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FDA rejects expanded use of Pegintron

BY Alaric DeArment

KENILWORTH, N.J. The Food and Drug Administration has rejected an approval application for an additional use for a hepatitis C drug.

Schering-Plough Corp. announced Friday that it had received a complete response letter – an FDA notice of rejection – for Pegintron (pegylated interferon alfa-2b) as a treatment for stage 3 malignant melanoma. The FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee had recommended approval of the drug for the disease by vote of 6 to 4 in October.

Schering-Plough said it would work with the FDA to respond to the agency’s concerns. The drug is already approved for treating chronic hepatitis C in combination with Schering-Plough’s Rebetol (ribavarin).

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