PHARMACY

Reports: Patients reported as cured of HIV experience return of virus

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Two patients in Boston whom researchers had thought were cured of HIV have experienced a relapse of the infection, according to published reports.

The New York Daily News reported that the two men, who were believed cured after receiving bone marrow transplants for lymphoma, had the virus return.

In both patients, the virus had been reduced to undetectable levels, and they had stopped taking antiretroviral drugs for HIV. But due to latently infected cells, often called "reservoirs," the virus was able to return and the two have resumed taking drugs for it. Another patient, Timothy Ray Brown, received a bone marrow transplant in 2007 in Berlin from a patient with a rare genetic mutation that makes people resistant to the virus and has apparently remained cured, according to reports.

 

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PharMerica acquires minority stake in specialty pharmacy Onco360

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Institutional pharmacy PharMerica Corp. has acquired a minority stake in specialty pharmacy company Onco360, the two companies said Monday.

Onco360, which focuses on oncology services, and PharMerica called the stake "significant," and PharMerica will have the option to acquire the rest of the company over the next several years, but financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Onco360 currently has sales of more than $100 million per year.

"We are pleased to have reached this agreement and to have PharMerica’s vote of confidence in our unique oncology care platform," Onco360 CEO Burt Zweigenhaft said. "This partnership will allow us to further expand our franchise on a national scale and provide more patients with the best oncology care possible. Working with PharMerica, we will build upon and further improve the outstanding service levels and capacity that our clients have come to expect from us."

 

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Newly approved hepatitis C treatment by Gilead Sciences said to offer major advance in treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

FOSTER CITY, Calif. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug for hepatitis C made by Gilead Sciences, the drug maker said Friday.

Gilead announced the approval of Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) tablets in the 400-mg strength, intended to be taken once per day for chronic hepatitis C as part of a combination antiviral treatment regimen by patients with genotypes 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the virus. The FDA gave Gilead priority review and breakthrough therapy designations for the drug, which it does for experimental medications that may offer major advances in treatment over existing options.

According to Gilead, patients with genotype 1 or 4 should take the drug with pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin for 12 weeks; those with genotype 2 should take it with ribavirin for 12 weeks; and those with genotype 3 should take it with ribavirin for 24 weeks. Chronic hepatitis C affects about 4 million people in the United States, mostly those born between 1945 and 1965, and it is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants, in recent years surpassing HIV and AIDs as a cause of death. The current standard of care involves up to 48 weeks of treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

"I believe that Sovaldi will have a major impact on public health by significantly increasing the number of Americans who are cured of hepatitis C," Weill Cornell Medical College researcher and chief investigator in the Sovaldi clinical trials Ira Jacobson said. "In clinical studies, Sovaldi in combination with other agents achieved very high cure rates while shortening the duration of treatment to as little as 12 weeks and reducing or completely eliminating the need for interferon injections, depending on the viral genotype."

 

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