PHARMACY

Novo Nordisk appoints new VP North America

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. A drug maker that specializes in diabetes care has appointed a new vice president.

Denmark-based Novo Nordisk announced Wednesday the appointment of Per Falk as VP clinical, medical and regulatory affairs for North America. Falk will report directly to Jerzy Gruhn, president of the company’s U.S. affiliate and SVP of its North America subsidiary.

Falk began working for the company in 2002 as VP, establishing its experimental medicine unit in Denmark, later working in Tokyo, where he was responsible for drug development and market authorization for the company in the Japan and Australia markets. He transferred to the United States last year.

“As a company, Novo Nordisk has exciting opportunities and ambitious targets in diabetes and biopharmaceuticals with the end goal of improving patients’ lives,” Gruhn said in a statement. “Dr. Falk is a proven asset to the company and is the ideal leader to help drive the development and marketing of new and lifesaving products to benefit millions of patients across the continent.”

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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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CVS Caremark mum about possible Aetna PBM purchase

BY Anna Mcgrath

CHICAGO CVS Caremark’s CFO Dave Rickard is keeping quiet on whether the corporation is interested in buying Aetna’s pharmacy benefit management business.

Acquiring Aetna’s PBM business would give CVS Caremark further expansion in the pharmacy benefits business, though the company is busy integrating retailer Longs Drug Stores, which it bought last October.

Despite being rumored as one of the potential buyers along with Medco Health Solutions, CVS Caremark has not disclosed whether the company will take advantage of the offer.

“We are in a position that if something that was very important strategically came along we could act on it. If that were available and the terms were right and the price was right then I think we’d have to look at it,” said Rickard.

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