HEALTH

Pharmacy retailers move fast on Zyrtec launch

BY Michael Johnsen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Wal-Mart got a three-day jump start on itself on the newly switched Zyrtec allergy medication, which became available at select Wal-Mart U.S. stores as early as Jan. 21, the company announced Tuesday. According to Wal-Mart executives, the company was able to employ supply-chain learnings from the GlaxoSmithKline launch of alli last year that enabled Wal-Mart to move the product quickly into stores.

Wal-Mart will offer eight different OTC Zyrtec products, including tablets, chewable tablets and syrup in each of its 4,128 U.S. stores by Jan. 23, the company added.

“Many of the country’s 50 million allergy sufferers have looked to us for their prescription Zyrtec, and we’re sure they’ll continue to look to us for the OTC product,” stated John Agwunobi, senior vice president and president for Wal-Mart’s professional services division. “In fact, they’ll look to us for the lowest price on OTC Zyrtec and we don’t plan to let them down.”

Wal-Mart’s efforts were not, however, a result of any special “first-to-market” arrangements with Zyrtec maker McNeil Consumer Healthcare. According to Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin, Walgreens, too, took advantage of its supply chain to move Zyrtec into select stores by Jan. 21 and had it available in all 6,100-plus stores by Jan. 22. And CVS Caremark spokesman Mike DeAngelis told Drug Store News that CVS, too, had Zyrtec available in select stores as early as Jan. 21, and in all of its 6,200-plus stores by Jan. 22. In addition, CVS stores are carrying 10 Zyrtec SKUs, he noted.

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Congressmen request BTC information from GAO

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak, D-Mich., have requested an update of the General Accounting Office’s 1995 evaluation on the potential benefits and pitfalls associated with a third-class of drugs in a letter to GAO Comptroller General David Walker, FDANews reported Tuesday.

The FDA held a meeting in October to help identify the issues and hurdles that would need to be addressed if a behind-the-counter class of drugs were to be considered. The FDA has established no timetable for a next step, such as a call for public comments and/or an advisory committee hearing, following that meeting.

The 1995 GAO report on BTC drugs concluded there were no major benefits associated with a third class.

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Virulite seeks suitor, FDA approval for new cold sore remedy

BY Michael Johnsen

COSTA MESA, Calif. Virulite, a medical device manufacturer developing a new treatment for cold sores, is looking for a U.S. suitor, having retained Compass Point Capital and Murphy Business and Financial Corporation as its mergers and acquisitions advisors, the U.K. company announced Friday.

Virulite is presently in the process of obtaining Food and Drug Administration clearance for a portable, hand held device that uses an invisible, non-thermal band of near-infrared light that, according to the company, reduces the healing time of cold cores by up to one half.

The company completed a U.S. market test of the product through Walgreens’ online distribution channel, where Virulite outsold all competing cold sore remedies, including the current market leader, the topical cream Abreva by GlaxoSmithKline, Virulite reported.

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