PHARMACY

Orexigen appoints new executive

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO A drug company focused on obesity has made a new appointment to its executive team.

Orexigen Therapeutics announced Monday the appointment of Jay Hagan as SVP corporate development and strategy. In the new position, Hagan will focus on partnership opportunities and commercialization strategies for products such as Contrave (naltrexone and bupropion), for which the company plans to file regulatory approval next year, and Empatic (zonisamide and bupropion), currently in phase 2 trials.

“I’m incredibly excited to join the Orexigen team at this pivotal time for the company,” Hagan said. “Orexigen possesses a unique opportunity among small biotechnology companies.”

Hagan was previously a partner at the biotechnology consulting firm Groundswell Advisors, concurrently serving as acting CEO of Unity Pharma.

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Gilead finds that investigational hypertension drug reduces blood pressure in patients

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO An investigational drug reduces blood pressure in patients with resistant hypertension, results of a phase 3 clinical trial presented Friday at the American Society of Hypertension’s annual scientific meeting in San Francisco showed.

Gilead Sciences announced the presentation of data from DAR-311, a phase 3 trial of the drug darusentan. The drug, an endothelin receptor agonist, is designed as a once-daily treatment for use as part of a three-drug regimen that includes a diuretic.

“Because of the increased risk of a number of life-threatening cardiovascular conditions associated with failure to control blood pressure, including stroke and heart attack, it is essential that new therapeutic approaches be evaluated for treatment of resistant hypertension,” stated lead study author and professor of medicine at the State University of New York Downstate Medical College of Medicine. “These data are important because they showed meaningful reductions in blood pressure when darusentan was added to existing antihypertensive regimens in a very difficult-to-treat patient population.”

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Walgreens wraps up Drug Fair deal

BY Rob Eder

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens announced late Friday afternoon that it has completed the acquisition of 31 Drug Fair stores in central and western New Jersey. In March, Walgreens agreed to buy the stores in the wake of Drug Fair’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Walgreens expects to have completed store conversions “over the next few weeks,” according to a statement, including extensive remerchandising, refreshed graphics package, new signage and displays, and a shift to the Walgreens product mix and assortment, including private label. Store hours will not be affected during the transition period, the company stated. More importantly, the store makeovers will also include conversion to Walgreens’ pharmacy system, tying it into the other 6,700-plus stores in the chain, and the ability to offer pharmacist counseling and prescription labels in 14 languages.

“This will be a seamless transition for our new customers,” said Walgreens market VP Tim Anhorn. “In fact, many of the familiar faces they know and trust will continue to work at these locations. These stores will carry on the tradition of service that Drug Fair has built over more than 50 years in this region.”

In addition to the 31 Drug Fair stores it will continue to operate, Walgreens also has purchased the prescription files two other stores, one in Clifton and another in Morris Plains, N.J., which Walgreens plans to move to stores it already operates in those areas. The company said it also expects to complete transactions for two additional Drug Fair locations in the coming weeks.

With total sales of more than $340 million, including $170 million of it coming from prescription drug sales, Drug Store News had ranked Drug Fair no. 48 on its annual listing of the top 50 pharmacy retailers in America for 2008 (The Drug Store News PoweRx50 2008).

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