PHARMACY

Pfizer may thwart Daiichi Sankyo, make a play for Ranbaxy

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK According to the Business Standard, Pfizer may make a hostile bid for Ranbaxy Laboratories, countering an agreed takeover by Daiichi Sankyo, as reported by Bloomberg. Pfizer may offer to buy the 65 percent of Ranbaxy that’s not held by the founding Singh family, the paper said.

Daiichi Sankyo agreed on June 11 to pay as much as $4.6 billion for Ranbaxy to enter the generic-drug market where sales are growing twice as fast as branded medicines.

Daiichi, Japan’s third-largest drugmaker, agreed to buy the entire 34.8 percent held by Ranbaxy’s billionaire chief executive officer Malvinder Singh and his family and a portion of about $1 billion of preferential stock Ranbaxy will issue. The sale will trigger a mandatory offer for 20 percent more from shareholders under Indian takeover rules.

Pfizer, which negotiated with Ranbaxy’s founders about a year ago for their holding in the company, may make an offer to purchase 41.3 percent of the company from institutions and 21.2 percent from individual shareholders, the newspaper said.

“I can’t comment on the matter,” said Kewal Handa, the managing director of Pfizer Ltd., the Indian unit of Pfizer. “We don’t comment on market speculation.”

Ranbaxy is trying to win the right to sell a version of Pfizer’s cholesterol drug Lipitor before the patent expires in 2010. On April 30, Pfizer said the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office will confirm the basic patent for its cholesterol medication, rejecting Ranbaxy’s challenge, but by buying its competition, Pfizer could save a lot of money.

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NCPA aims for 75 percent community pharmacy membership

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. With the Presidential campaign and Senate bill 3101 looming overhead, the National Community Pharmacists Association has reached a “historic juncture,” according to Bruce Roberts, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the NCPA. Looking to give independent pharmacy a greater voice, the association has announced an aggressive membership campaign.

“We have the opportunity to define this industry in a positive way and for us all to sit back in the years to come and say we really made a difference,” said Roberts. “We can’t do that with just a small subset of the industry carrying the load. So we are going to make a major push to get the community pharmacists engaged in membership—we need to have the support of all of the industry.”

The organization currently has a membership of about 50 percent—or 12,000 members—of independent community pharmacy. The goal: To have, one year from now, about 75 percent of pharmacy owners as “engaged” members of the association.

As part of the campaign, the association will work to contact every non-member nationwide “in every possible way” including email, snail mail and telephone. The association will also work with current members, buying groups, wholesalers, etc. to reinforce the importance of being a member and encourage participation among non-members.

NCPA also plans to improve member benefits. Specific details were not disclosed but the improvements are expected to have a direct impact on members’ bottom line, and will help members attract quality employees, and attract and retain new customers.

“The one thing we will be doing beyond just asking folks to be members is we want to get them engaged. We have to have community pharmacists around the country engaged in a significant way,” said Roberts.

Serving as a slice of evidence of the success that can be achieved if community pharmacy works together is Senate bill 3101. The legislation includes provisions requiring prompt payment to pharmacies in Medicare Part D as well as a delay to the new AMP reimbursement.

“Just on this Senate bill we facilitated over 7,000 phone calls from pharmacists to Congress over the course of the last 24 hours,” said Roberts. “So for me, and the reason I become so passionate about this, is because I have seen the tremendous success we have had in just the little bit of work we have done and I can only image how successful we can be if we can get to that goal of having 75 percent of community pharmacists in the country as members—not only as members but engaged.”

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Interferon may assist with weight loss

BY Alaric DeArment

AMARILLO, Texas Researchers at Amarillo Biosciences made a surprising discovery during tests of the autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia drug interferon, the company announced Wednesday.

In a study of 582 women, given one of five low doses of oral interferon or a placebo, a significant number of women given two of the doses experienced at least 5 percent weight loss. In response, Amarillo has filed a patent with the Patent and Trademark Office for the use of oral interferon to treat obesity.

Amarillo announced that it plans to conduct further studies. The Amarillo, Texas-based company is also researching the use of low-dose, oral interferon to treat chronic cough, influenza and opportunistic infections in people with HIV.

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