PHARMACY

Merck study shows Januvia/metformin combo reduces blood sugar leves

BY Drew Buono

SAN FRANCISCO Merck presented data at the American Diabetes Association Annual Scientific Sessions showing that its type 2 diabetes Januvia combined with metformin can substantially improve beta cell function and also significantly reduce blood sugar levels at one and two years.

Results from one portion of the study showed that the mean A1C reductions were 1.8 percent at one year and 1.7 percent at two years in patients treated with Januvia 50 mg/metformin 1000 mg twice daily. Those results were then compared to patients treated with Januvia 100 mg alone once daily. The results from that study showed that there was a 0.8 percent reduction in A1C levels from baseline at one year and a 1.2 percent reduction from baseline at two years.

“We wanted to evaluate the combined and complementary effects of Januvia and metformin on the critical role of beta cell function in type 2 diabetes as well as to assess efficacy out two years” said John Amatruda, senior vice president of clinical research on diabetes and obesity at Merck. “The improvements in markers of beta cell function we saw in this study may contribute to the significant lowering of blood sugar levels that was observed during two years of therapy with the initial combination of Januvia and metformin.”

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Ipsen to acquire Tercica in $663 million deal

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Paris-based pharmaceutical company Ipsen is buying Brisbane, Calif.-based biotechnology company Tercica for $663 million, or $9 a share.

Ipsen was already a major shareholder in Tercica, and the deal puts it in control of the remaining shares. It hopes to use the deal to expand operations in the U.S.

Ipsen will also buy British drugmaker Vernalis’ U.S. subsidiary and has acquired rights to Octagen’s experimental hemophilia drug OBI-1.

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PHARMACY

Taro tries to cancel deal with Sun

BY Drew Buono

MUMBAI, India In response to Taro announcing that it was canceling a merger agreement with Sun Pharmaceuticals, Sun chairman Dilip Shanghvi fired off a letter telling the drugmaker it cannot exit the deal.

After a year in which Taro’s finances rebounded from red to black, the company said it wanted out of its deal with Sun because the deal did not reflect its improved performance. In response, Shanghvi expresses disappointment that Taro made its announcement without engaging in meaningful dialogue. He also points out that Taro had only $47 million in cash as of March 31 and, without Sun’s infusions of cash last year, “Taro would have virtually negative cash—hardly the ‘dramatic’ improvement of which Taro has boasted.”

Last May, Sun agreed to acquire Taro for $454 million. Some stockholders objected to the agreement’s $7.75 per share offer and petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court for a temporary injunction, which the court never issued, to prevent Taro from harming minority shareholders.

After Taro reported net sales of approximately $313 million and a gross profit of nearly $168 million for 2007, the company’s board of directors unanimously voted to cancel the merger agreement, saying the company’s improved financials made Sun’s offer inadequate. The move came even after Sun purportedly offered to raise the merger price to $10.25 per share, according to Taro.

In light of Taro’s actions, Sun is considering its options, including commencing legal proceedings, Shanghvi says, adding that he is available to discuss a negotiated transaction with Taro.

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