PHARMACY

Merck shareholders approve merger with Schering-Plough

BY Allison Cerra

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. It’s official: Merck & Co.’s shareholders have approved its merger with Schering-Plough.

Merck announced Friday that its shareholders voted overwhelmingly to approve the proposed merger. The preliminary tabulation indicates that more than 99% of the company’s outstanding shares voted in favor of the transaction. Merck held its special shareholder meeting in Bridgewater, N.J. on Friday to vote on the proposed merger.

“We are gratified by the shareholder confidence demonstrated through the outcome of today’s vote,” said Richard T. Clark, Merck’s chairman, president and CEO. “On behalf of Merck’s Board and management team, I want to thank our shareholders, customers and dedicated employees for their support throughout this process. We look forward to completing the merger with Schering-Plough and to creating a strong, global leader that can make a substantial difference to patients and global health care.”

As previously announced on March 9, under the terms of the agreement, Schering-Plough shareholders will receive 0.5767 of a share of new Merck common stock and $10.50 in cash for each share of Schering-Plough. For Merck shareholders, existing Merck share certificates will automatically represent an equal number of shares in the new Merck after completion of the merger.

The company expects the transaction to close in the fourth quarter of 2009, as originally planned. The transaction remains subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, including expiration or termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, as well as clearance by the European Commission under the SEC Merger Regulation and certain other foreign jurisdictions.

All proxy cards and ballots submitted at the special meeting were processed by IVS Associates Inc. for final tabulation and certification. Final voting results will be publicly announced promptly after they have been tabulated and certified.

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PHARMACY

CVS Caremark renews distribution agreements

BY Antoinette Alexander

SAN FRANCISCO McKesson has renewed its distribution agreement to supply CVS Caremark with branded and generic drugs, the company announced on Monday.

“CVS Caremark’s decision to renew its agreement with McKesson is reflective of the trusted relationship between our two companies and the value McKesson has delivered to CVS Caremark over the years,” stated Paul Julian, EVP, group president for McKesson. “McKesson’s comprehensive supply chain solutions help CVS Caremark ensure the highest levels of product availability and product integrity, empowering CVS Caremark to provide outstanding pharmaceutical care and further strengthen its competitive position.”

In related news, the retail giant also announced that it has renewed its distribution agreement with Cardinal Health. CVS Caremark said Cardinal Health will supply pharmaceuticals to its national network of retail pharmacies through mid-2013.

“We have a long-standing partnership with CVS Caremark, and we are proud to continue this important relationship,” said George Barrett, vice chairman of Cardinal Health and CEO of the Healthcare Supply Chain Services segment. “The footprint of the agreement is expected to be fundamentally the same as our existing relationship.”

Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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FDA rejects application of pain-relief drug

BY Alaric DeArment

PALATINE, Ill. The Food and Drug Administration has rejected an approval application for a pain-relief drug.

Acura Pharmaceuticals and King Pharmaceuticals announced that the FDA had issued a letter turning down their application for Acurox (oxycodone HC1, USP and niacin, USP), an immediate-release drug designed to relieve moderate to severe pain.

The companies said the letter expressed concerns about the potential abuse deterrent benefits of the drug. One of the drug’s ingredients, oxycodone, is a opiate-derived controlled substance popular with drug abusers.

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