PHARMACY

VeriChip launches direct-to-consumer marketing campaign

BY Drew Buono

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. VeriChip, which is a provider of radio frequency identification systems for healthcare groups, will launch its first-ever direct-to-consumer marketing campaign in South Florida on April 28.

As part of this campaign, the company has renamed its patient identification system Health Link and will be debuting a new Web site at www.healthlinkinfo.com that will go live at the campaign launch. The site will provide complete information about the product and how to enroll as a Health Link member. VeriChip has also entered into a relationship with HearUSA, a leading provider of hearing care, which has eight HeaRx locations throughout the Palm Beach market where patients can enroll in Health Link.

Health Link is the connection between a patient and his/her personal health record. It provides emergency room doctors and nurses with immediate access to their vital medical and emergency contact information, which will help them to treat them accurately during an emergency. Health Link utilizes a tiny microchip and a secure, private, online database that connects the patient to their respective personal health record.

The Health Link microchip stores only a unique 16-digit identification number and is injected just under the skin in the rear upper portion of the right arm. When a Health Link member presents in an emergency department unconscious, unresponsive or confused, emergency medical personnel use the Health Link scanner to retrieve the member’s identification number to access his or her personal health record.

Scott Silverman, chairman and chief executive officer of VeriChip, said, “Given our successful infrastructure build-out in South Florida, we are now ready to escalate our marketing efforts to increase consumer awareness and adoption through the first DTC launch of our product. We chose to partner with HearUSA because of their impeccable reputation as a quality provider of hearing health care. This partnership also allows us to offer consumers a convenient location in a professional setting where they can be educated on Health Link and enroll as a member.”

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PHARMACY

Schering-Plough posts quarterly loss from purchase of Organon

BY Drew Buono

KENILWORTH, N.J. Schering-Plough today released its first-quarter results for 2008, according to published reports. The drugmaker reported a net income of $253 million, down from $543 million during the first quarter of 2007, mostly due to the acquisition of the biotech company Organon BioSciences.

Sales though rose by 56 percent to $4.66 billion. Its rheumatoid arthritis drug Remicade’s sales rose by 36 percent to $507 million.

Vytorin and another cholesterol treatment drug Zetia, which Schering markets through a joint venture with Merck saw sales of both drugs combined rise 6 percent to $1.2 billion during the quarter. But they fell 5 percent in the United States amid the widely publicized failure of Vytorin to cut plaque in neck arteries in a study for which results were presented in January.

Merck said Monday it expects its revenue from the drugs to drop by $700 million over the rest of 2008.

Chief executive officer Fred Hassan said the company is on track with its plan to cut annual costs by $1.5 billion by 2012, announced earlier this month. About 10 percent of its 55,000 jobs are to be cut.

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Genzyme plans expansion in China

BY Drew Buono

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Genzyme has announced that it will build a research and development center in Beijing as part of its global expansion, according to published reports.

The company expects the facility to open in 2010 and cost them about $90 million. It will be a 200,000 square-foot facility, which will be able to accommodate 350 employees.

Genzyme said it already has 25 employees working in offices in Beijing and Shanghai and has a pilot program for its cell therapy MACI at Beijing Wujing Hospital.

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