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New players to enter antacid aisle

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK —As heartburn sales experience their traditional annual spike in sales between Thanksgiving and the New Year, thanks in large part to overindulgence, there soon may be two new players vying for position on the antacid shelf—Schering-Plough’s Zegerid and Perrigo’s generic omeprazole.

Schering-Plough is in the process of switching a low-dose version of Santarus’ Zegerid, a prescription-only proton-pump inhibitor. Schering-Plough earlier this year paid out a $5 million milestone payment to Santarus. “We believe that the receipt of this milestone [payment] indicates that Schering-Plough is continuing to make progress under our OTC license agreement,” stated Santarus president and chief executive officer Gerry Proehl.

Schering-Plough in October 2006 entered into an agreement with Santarus to market Zegerid, an immediate-release over-the-counter omeprazole. The deal, which includes a $15 million up-front payment and this $5 million milestone, could be valued as high as $80 million if all regulatory and sales milestones are reached.

One year into the agreement, Schering-Plough and Santarus have reached their first clinical testing milestone in preparation for the filing of a new-drug application to the FDA.

Perrigo’s store-brand version of omeprazole (to be placed alongside Prilosec OTC) is expected to hit shelves in early 2008, pending Food and Drug Administration approval. “Omeprazole…is the latest new product we are bringing to the market [and] the largest opportunity in our 120-year history of Perrigo,” stated Joe Papa, Perrigo president and chief executive officer.

“Our partner, Dexcel, settled a lawsuit with AstraZeneca on Sept. 27,” he said in a conference call with analysts last month. “Perrigo will [market] this product exclusively, offering a high-quality, affordable product that can save consumers up to $150 million per year. Brand sales of Prilosec OTC are estimated to be $750 million and growing. Our partner has not yet received final approval, but we expect to launch by the end of [the first quarter] calendar year 2008 or just a few months from now. We have just begun working with our customers to start [marketing] efforts for this important product.”

Perrigo also is working toward introducing a private-label version of Johnson & Johnson’s Pepcid Complete in the coming year.

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Stick Me Designs adds style to glucose meter bags

BY Michael Johnsen

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. Stick Me Designs, an emerging accessory designer of diabetes glucose carrying cases for women, teens and children, announced the launch of their glucose meter bag collection Friday.

“While the medical supply industry is busy working on adding color, convenience and function to their meters, they’ve forgotten the most important aspect of their portability—the carrying case,” stated Rickina Velte, founder of Stick Me Designs. “We’ve taken on the task of infusing design, style and function that adds personality to an everyday necessity for people with diabetes.”

The new diabetes bags offer choices in color, fabrics, design and functionality.

The first collection features four contemporary designs created for the One Touch Ultra glucose meter and other more traditional larger-style testing meters. The bags have elastic placeholders for lancet devices, testing strips and glucose tabs or candy. They also feature interior open and zippered pockets for such everyday essentials as credit cards, identification, money, sanitizing wipes and an outside zipper pocket for other essentials.

Stick Me Designs’ introductory collection also features hand-selected faux suedes, designer upholsteries and cotton fabrics in retro and contemporary styles and colors.

Suggested retail prices will range from $32.99 to $45.99, the company reported.

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Continucare opens first clinic at Navarro

BY Antoinette Alexander

MIAMI Continucare Corp. has announced the opening of its first ValuClinic in-store health clinic within a Navarro Discount Pharmacy in Hollywood, Fla.

Similar to many other retail-based clinic models, the walk-in clinic will treat acute conditions and will be staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

According to Gabe Navarro, chief executive officer of the Miami-based pharmacy chain, Continucare was on the verge of opening a few locations in the recently acquired Sedano’s stores, so Navarro proceeded with the openings.

In October, it was announced that Navarro Discount Pharmacy would merge its operations with Sedano’s Pharmacy & Discount Store. Sedano’s is a Hispanic drug retail company with 11 pharmacies in the southern Florida market. Combined, the entity has more than 30 stores with annual revenues of more than $350 million. All of the stores are operating under the Navarro banner in the southern Florida market.

According to Navarro, plans call for Continucare to have three ValuClinics open in Navarro stores by the end of the year. It expects to have a total of 15 clinics in operation in 2008.

In late 2006 it was announced that Navarro had partnered with Express Clinics to introduce in-store health clinics to the southern Florida market; however, it is possible that partnership will come to an end.

“It is uncertain whether Express Clinics will continue to operate clinics in our stores,” Navarro told Drug Store News. “[We] should know more in the coming weeks.”

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