PHARMACY

New diabetes drug launches show primary care market still strong

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — For all the fears about the patent cliff, at least one disease state seems to be on the up-and-up in terms of new drug development and new products.

(THE NEWS: FDA approves Bydureon. For the full story, click here.)

In the past week, the Food and Drug Administration has approved two new drugs for Type 2 diabetes: Bydureon (exenatide), made by Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Alkermes, and Jentadueto (linagliptin and metformin), made by Eli Lilly & Co. and Boehringer Ingelheim.

With most of the nearly 26 million Americans with diabetes having the Type 2 variety — a figure that’s expected to rise in the coming decades — and no cure in sight, the need for new and better therapies to manage the disease remains strong, and drug makers are responding in kind.

And they could stand to make a lot of money as well: According to some analysts, Bydureon could achieve annual sales of $1 billion, and some also expect it to displace Novo Nordisk’s Victoza (liraglutide). At the same time, healthcare market research firm Decision Resources expected Bydureon to gain a Type 2 diabetes market share of 2.6% by 2020.

But diabetes isn’t the only primary care-driven disease state seeing increased activity these days. According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, more than 50 drugs currently are under development for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is estimated to affect more than 13 million adults in the United States, as well as potentially 12 million more who don’t know they have it.

The dominant trend over the past several years has been the patent cliff, with the assumption that primary care drugs would start to decline thanks to loss of patent protection and generic competition, with companies instead focusing on specialty drugs for conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune disorders. That trend still is on, but it also appears that development of new drugs for conditions like diabetes and COPD will continue.

Whether they will achieve the kinds of mega-blockbuster sales of medicines like Pfizer’s cholesterol drug Lipitor (atorvastatin) — which achieved sales of more than $8 billion in 2011 and recently lost patent protection — remains to be seen, but the continued need for new drugs for old diseases remains strong.

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PHARMACY

Katz Group-McKesson deal sets stage for greater shifts in Canadian market

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The move by Katz Group to shed its independent and franchise businesses marks a shift in the Canadian market and likely sets the stage for even more changes north of the border. And while it remains unclear just how the pharmacy retail landscape in Canada will look in the years ahead, what is clear is that the winds of change are blowing, and industry eyes will remain fixed on the Canadian market, perhaps now more than ever.

(THE NEWS: Katz Group to sell independent, franchise businesses to McKesson. For the full story, click here.)

As the article states, Katz Group Canada has signed a definitive agreement to sell its banner pharmacy business, Drug Trading, and its franchise pharmacy business, Medicine Shoppe Canada, to McKesson for about CAD $920 million in cash.

Katz Group stated that the sale to McKesson will enable the former to focus on its corporate-owned Rexall and Rexall/Pharma Plus store network. So as new CEO Frank Scorpiniti, who officially succeeded Andy Giancamilli on Feb. 2, settles into his new role and focuses on the core banner, industry members pretty much can bet on seeing even more changes down the road.

In fact, Katz Group has announced that its Rexall division has acquired Dell Pharmacies, an 18-store chain operating in southern Ontario with approximately $70 million in annual sales. The Dell stores will be integrated into the Rexall network.

The sale to McKesson also creates cash for the company potentially to go out and acquire another Canadian operator, as some have expected it might.

Meanwhile, Target unveiled an unconventional plan for how it will build a pharmacy presence in Canada. It will utilize a pharmacy franchise model for its stores north of the border, the first of which will open in March/April 2013. That strategy is different than in the United States, where Target operates its own in-store pharmacies.

While it remains unclear just how the pharmacy retail landscape in Canada will look in the years ahead, what is clear is that the winds of change are blowing and industry eyes will remain fixed on the Canadian market, perhaps now more than ever.

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Survey: Endocrinologists would prescribe Bydureon for 20% of patients

BY Alaric DeArment

BURLINGTON, Mass. — Endocrinologists would prescribe a newly approved weekly treatment for Type 2 diabetes to one-fifth of their patients, a new survey showed.

Healthcare market research firm Decision Resources announced the results of a survey of endocrinologists in the United States who said they would prescribe Bydureon (exenatide), made by Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Alkermes, to 20% of their patients. But taking into consideration the reimbursement hurdles and competition that the drug could face, the firm said Bydureon probably would earn a 2.6% share of the Type 2 diabetes market by 2020.

"However, we expect Bydureon will displace Victoza (liraglutide) and will earn our proprietary gold-standard status for Type 2 diabetes in 2015," Decision Resources analyst Christine Helliwell said, referring to a competing drug made by Novo Nordisk. "Bydureon has competitive advantages in efficacy, safety, tolerability and delivery."

The Food and Drug Administration approved Bydureon on Monday. The drug, a long-acting version of the injected drug Byetta, was developed under a partnership between Amylin and Eli Lilly & Co. that started in 2002 but that the companies dissolved in November 2011 after Lilly formed a similar diabetes drug partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim.

 


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