PHARMACY

Retail clinics continue to prosper, market research firm concludes

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK As healthcare costs continue to soar, and millions of underinsured and uninsured Americans turn to more affordable health services provided by retail-based clinics, the outlook for the convenient care industry looks healthy despite the current recession, according to a recent report by independent market research firm Kalorama Information.

“It’s a concept that makes a lot of sense in the current economy,” stated Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information. “For the unemployed, this is their place to get routine medical care. There won’t be an explosion of new locations right now, but the existing locations will prosper. Most importantly, the double benefit of the clinics is that they drive sales into the drug stores and food stores, mostly for purchases of OTC products.”

According to its “Retail Clinics and the In-Store Healthcare Market 2009: Bright Spot in the Current Economy?” report, the retail clinic market was valued at $545.9 million in 2008, increasing 130.6% per year since 2003.

The U.S. retail clinic industry is at an early stage of growth and will continue at a healthy pace, though Kalorama expects the pace to slow to 29.6% through 2013. The current economy will hamper rapid revenue growth for the time being, but that should resume after 2012, Kalorama stated.

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AstraZeneca’s collaboration with biotech co. extended

BY Alaric DeArment

BERKELEY, Calif. A collaboration between Anglo-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca and a U.S. biotech will be extended.

Dynavax Technologies Corp. announced Wednesday that it would extend the collaboration, which began in September 2006, until July 2010. Dynavax is eligible to receive up to $136 million in payments, as well as royalties.

Under the collaboration, the two companies are developing medicines for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The first drug candidate, AZD1419, is expected to enter phase 1 clinical studies in the second half of this year. The companies developed AZD1419 using Dynavax’s proprietary immunostimulatory sequences technology.

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HHS launches new federal office to coordinate Recovery Act spending

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Moving quickly to get ahead of a massive federal outlay spawned by the economic stimulus – and assure the orderly distribution of those funds – the Department of Health and Human Services announced the creation of the Office of Recovery Act Coordination.

The new office, HHS announced late Wednesday, “will help ensure the timely, organized and transparent distribution of an estimated $137 billion in Recovery Act Funds,” and will be managed by the massive federal health department. It also could be seen as a bid to pre-empt any potential sniping from political opponents of the Obama Administration – or of the massive economic stimulus plan the White House proposed and signed into law.

“HHS is committed to moving quickly and carefully to distribute Recovery Act funds in an open and transparent manner,” said HHS spokeswoman Jenny Backus. “We have already worked to put more than $3 billion in Recovery Act funds into states, and the new Office of Recovery Act Coordination will enhance and streamline our efforts to get critical resources and potential new job opportunities to the American people during tough times.”

Dennis Williams, a 20-year agency veteran, will lead the new office and serve as HHS’ deputy assistant secretary for Recovery Act coordination.

As of March 11, HHS has distributed $3 billion in Recovery Act funds to support what the agency calls “a variety of policies and programs including Community Health Centers and Medicaid.”

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