HEALTH

Pfizer negotiating possible acquisition of Wyeth

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Pfizer is currently in talks to potentially acquire Wyeth in a deal that could be valued at more than $600 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday morning.

According to the report, Pfizer and Wyeth executives have been negotiating a possible deal for months, but a deal is not imminent. Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler told The Financial Times earlier this month that Pfizer may acquire a large pharmaceutical company. Published reports had speculated that this could be Bristol-Myers Squibb or Gilead Sciences. Neither Pfizer nor Wyeth communication executives would confirm the speculated merger.

Part of the attraction for Pfizer, according to published reports, is Wyeth’s position in biotechnology. The company has had success with Prevnar, its pediatric pneumococcal vaccine, which brought in $2.1 billion in sales over the first nine months of 2008, a 12% increase, according to company reports. A newer version of the vaccine, Prevnar-13, is currently in development. 

Wyeth also co-markets Enbrel, a biologic drug positioned against arthritis, with Amgen. The Wyeth Consumer Healthcare division, which fields a significant portfolio across analgesics and cough-cold with Advil, ChapStick and Robitussin, may also be appealing to Pfizer. Pfizer has been criticized of late for selling its own over-the-counter division to Johnson & Johnson, noting that J&J’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare division is one of the positives for that company in a recession economy and a challenging environment throughout the prescription-drug industry.

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Hy-Vee adopts NuVal Nutritional Scoring System to help customers determine food’s nutritional content

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Hy-Vee has introduced a scoring system to allow customers to determine the nutritional content of the food they buy.

The Midwestern supermarket chain announced Thursday that it had adopted the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System, making it the first chain to do so in the Midwest. Golub Corp., which operates the Price Chopper chain in the Northeast, also has introduced the system, licensed by Braintree, Mass.-based NuVal, a joint venture of Topco Associates and Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn.

“You really shouldn’t need a Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry to figure out which kids’ breakfast cereal is more nutritious,” said David Katz, chairman of Griffin Hospital’s Yale Prevention Research Center. “If people want to make good decisions about the foods they buy and eat, then we should give them nutritional information they can understand.”

Hy-Vee plans to introduce the system to its stores in seven states.

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Lansinoh acquires Soothies Gel Pads

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Lansinoh Laboratories on Thursday announced the acquisition of Soothies Gel Pads distributed by Puronyx. The acquisition helps expand Lansinoh product line in an effort to become the turnkey brand offering for breastfeeding mothers.

“We will continue to expand our product line through selective acquisitions and internal development to make certain we have a best-in-class product in every category for breastfeeding mothers,” stated Gary Downing, Lansinoh CEO. “Every breastfeeding mother has her own individual needs and preferences. Some mothers will prefer our Lansinoh HPA Lanolin ointment; some will prefer our Soothies Gel Pads. Other moms will prefer to use our gel pads in conjunction with our HPA Lanolin. Whatever their preference, they’ll be able to satisfy it with Lansinoh products.”

Soothies are the natural feeding segment’s bestselling gel pads, Lansinoh stated, and are used by breastfeeding mothers to cool, soothe, and treat sore nipples that can result from breastfeeding. Soothies Gel Pads will be folded into the Lansinoh portfolio of products, and sold nationally as “Soothies by Lansinoh Gel Pads” at a suggested retail price of $12.99.

In 2008, the breast therapies segment, which includes gel pads and topical ointments, contributed nearly 12% to nursing accessories, which is valued at over $83 million, according to Information Resources, Inc. data, as provided by Lansinoh.

In the U.S., the market for breastfeeding products and accessories has grown 40% since 2005, according to IRI. The birth rate in the U.S. has increased to 4.3 million in 2007, up 4% since 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control. As many as 77% of mothers now initiate breastfeeding, according to the CDC, the highest initiation rate historically in the U.S.

Nursing mothers experiencing nipple pain or discomfort apply Soothies by peeling off the adhesive backing, and placing the three-inch circular hydrogel pad directly over the affected nipple. Soothies’ hydrogel technology and the science of moist wound healing provide instant cooling relief, and soothes sore, cracked, chapped or chafed nipples. Soothies are also the only gel pad that features fabric backing that reduces or eliminates friction against nursing bras or shirts.

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