PHARMACY

Ventana accedes to Roche’s increased purchase bid

BY Drew Buono

BASEL, Switzerland & TUCSON, Ariz. Just five days ago Ventana released a statement from its board of directors recommending that stockholders not tender any of their shares to Roche for the price of $75 per share. This was the fifth extension of the offer from Roche, an offer that, seven months ago, was higher than the stock price but significantly less than the $85.33 listed for the stock at the end of the day on Friday.

Now, according to published reports, Ventana looks like it will sell to Roche but only because the Swiss company has increased its offer to $89.50 per share, a tremendous 72.3 percent increase over Ventana’s share price at the time of the initial offer. It seems the company jumped the offer because it desires Ventana’s diagnostic kits, which predict patient responses to anticancer drugs made by Roche.

From a once-bitter relationship between the two companies, this new offer has completely changed both minds, especially Ventana chief executive officer Christopher Gleeson, who said that he was “very excited” to be joining Roche.

Gleeson will continue as chief executive officer of Ventana’s business, following completion of the transaction and become a member of the Roche Diagnostics Executive Committee. Ventana will remain based in Tucson, Ariz., and its employees will become part of the combined company.

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PHARMACY

FDA updates labeling for birth control patch to reflect risk of blood clots

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration has approved additional changes to the labeling for the Ortho Evra patch, made by Ortho McNeil Pharmaceuticals, to include the results of a new study that found users of the birth control patch were at higher risk of developing serious blood clots, also known as venous thromboembolism, which can lead to a pulmonary embolism.

The Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program on behalf of Johnson & Johnson conducted the study. The patch was studied in women aged 15-44. These recent findings support an earlier study that also said women in this group were at higher risk for VTE.

Ortho Evra is a prescription patch that releases the hormones ethinyl estradiol and norelgestromin through the skin into the blood stream. Because the hormones are processed by the body differently than hormones from birth control pills, women using the product will be exposed to about 60 percent more estrogen than if they were using typical birth control pills containing 35 micrograms of estrogen. Increased levels of estrogen may increase the risk of side effects, including VTE.

Women should discuss with their health care providers the possible increased risk of VTE with Ortho Evra, which is applied once a week, and balance this risk against the increased chance of pregnancy if women do not take their birth control pill daily.

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Study shows Avodart/Flomax combo more effective on enlarged prostate problems

BY Drew Buono

PHILADELPHIA A new study that will be published in the Journal of Urology shows that men with enlarged prostates who took a combination of two medications, Avodart and tamsulosin hydrochloride, the generic version of the Astellas Pharma/Boehringer Ingelheim drug Flomax, experienced greater improvements in urinary symptoms than men prescribed either medication alone, according to published reports.

Over time, Avodart (dutasteride) shrinks the prostate, improves symptoms and arrests the enlarged prostate disease process. Tamsulosin is an alpha-blocker that relaxes the muscles in the bladder and prostate.

The study, entitled The Combination of Avodart and Tamsulosin, looked at male patients with moderate-to-severe enlarged prostate symptoms received a placebo for four weeks and then were randomized to receive Avodart and tamsulosin as combination therapy, for the remaining 24 months of the study.

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