PHARMACY

Merck, Schering-Plough settle Vytorin, Zetia suits

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. announced Wednesday that they had resolved class-action lawsuits over the purchase and use of two cholesterol drugs.

The companies announced they would pay $41.5 million in suits over the drugs Vytorin (ezetimibe and simvastatin) and Zetia (ezetimibe) to plaintiffs representing consumers, insurers and other groups.

“These agreements will allow the companies to avoid continuing defense costs and remain focused on discovering, developing and delivering novel medicines and vaccines,” Merck general counsel and EVP Bruce Kuhlik said in a statement.

The companies said the settlement resolves all the 140 suits that seek economic damages related to the purchase of Vytorin — which Merck and Schering-Plough market under a joint venture — and Zetia pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

The lawsuits also made allegations about the safety and efficacy of the drugs based on a clinical trial, though the companies said the settlement is not an admission of liability on that matter or an admission of misconduct or liability in connection with the marketing or sale of the drugs.

“We continue to believe that Vytorin and Zetia, in addition to a healthy diet, can provide important benefits for physicians in helping their patients with high cholesterol reach their cholesterol goals,” Schering-Plough EVP and general counsel Thomas Sabatino said.

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Par reports increase in revenue, income and EPS for Q2

BY Alaric DeArment

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. Generic drug maker Par Pharmaceutical Cos. got a jump in revenues and net income during second quarter 2009, the company announced in an earnings report Tuesday.

Par reported total revenues of $404 million, net income of $23.8 million and diluted earnings per share of 71 cents. This compared with reported revenues of $112.9 million, a net loss of $21.2 million and diluted earnings per share of 64 cents during second quarter 2008.

The company also saw increases in product sales. Sales of the heart disease drug metoprolol succinate – an authorized generic version of AstraZeneca’s Toprol XL – were $306 million during the quarter, a 173% increase over first quarter 2009. The injected migraine headache drug sumatriptan, a generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s Imitrex, had sales of $21.8 million, compared to $16 million during the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the antihistamine meclizine, a generic version of Pfizer’s Antivert, was $8.9 million, compared with $9.8 million during first quarter, the decrease resulting primarily from trade buying patterns.

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FlavorX Flavoring System helps the medicine go down

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON Mary Poppins may have observed a spoonful of sugar’s ability to help wash medicine down, but a mouthful of bitter syrup continues to be an unpleasant experience for any child.

FlavorX, a company based in the Baltimore and Washington area, has designed an automation dispensing aid designed to improve the palatability of medicines for children.

The FlavorX Flavoring System uses a bitterness suppressor and sweetness enhancer to allow pharmacists to mask the taste of many prescription and OTC medications in a wide variety of flavors, speeding up the flavoring process while giving the pharmacist complete control of the process.

According to some research, 86% of parents found that flavoring by the pharmacist influenced children’s success in taking the asthma drug prednisone, while 40% of children completed their therapies without flavoring.

“These figures clearly illustrate that flavoring medications promotes better patient compliance and increases positive clinical outcomes,” FlavorX president and CEO Stuart Amos said in a statement. “We wanted to help pharmacists fill a flavored prescription faster and meet the increasing demand as well as help patients get well.”

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