PHARMACY

Walgreens reports 11% increase in April sales

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens reported an 11% jump in sales to $5.38 billion, compared with the year-ago period.

Sales in comparable stores (those open at least a year) rose 5.7%, while comparable-store front-end sales increased 8.9%, the company reported Monday morning. Sales were helped by Easter falling in April this year, compared with a March Easter last year.

Sales for the combined months of March and April 2009 increased 9% from the same two months in 2008. Comparable-store sales for the March/April period rose 3.7%, while comparable-store front-end sales for the combined months increased 1.3%.

Walgreens also reported that April pharmacy sales increased 8.5%, while comparable pharmacy sales increased 4%. Comparable-pharmacy sales were negatively impacted by 4 percentage points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months. Meanwhile, total prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased 3.7% in April. Pharmacy sales accounted for 65.4% of total sales for the month. Calendar day shifts negatively impacted prescriptions filled in comparable stores by 0.5 percentage points.

Fiscal 2009 year-to-date sales for the eight months were $42.27 billion, up 7.4% from approximately $39.38 billion. Comparable store sales for the fiscal year to date increased 2.0 percent.

Walgreens opened 51 drug stores during April, including four relocations, acquired one store and closed one.

As of April 30, Walgreens operated 7,282 locations in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. That includes 6,783 drugstores, 579 more than the year-ago period. The company also operates worksite health centers, home care facilities and specialty, institutional and mail service pharmacies. Its Take Care Health Systems subsidiary manages 716 in-store convenient care clinics and worksite health and wellness centers. Franchisees of Option Care, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walgreens, are not included in Walgreens location or store count.

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Investigational oxycodone formulation may discourage drug abusers

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW ORLEANS Two drug companies may have developed a formulation of the painkiller oxycodone that discourages drug abusers.

King Pharmaceuticals and Acura Pharmaceuticals announced Friday that results from an oral abuse liability study of the drug Acurox (oxycodone hydrochloride and niacin) tablets indicate they are disliked among people with a history of opioid abuse, compared with oxycodone tablets alone when they swallow excess doses.

“The fact that people with a history of opioid abuse showed a disliking of Acurox tablets in excessive doses is an indication that the product is an important step in the development of medicines that are designed to deter common methods of abuse, such as over ingestion, while effectively managing pain,” lead study author and chief of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s Center for Chemical Dependence Donald Jasinski said.

Results of the study were presented Friday at the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s Medical-Scientific Conference.

The two companies said the Food and Drug Administration had given Acurox priority review classification, and they expect to get a response from the FDA by June 30.

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Amylin issues letter to shareholders regarding board of directors

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO Drug maker Amylin Pharmaceuticals is urging shareholders to reject prospective members of its board nominated by investor Carl Icahn and Eastbourne Capital Management.

Amylin sent a letter to shareholders Friday, signed by president and CEO Daniel Bradbury and lead independent director James Wilson, requesting that they instead vote for the company’s current board, saying the company was “poised to revolutionize” Type 2 diabetes treatment with the once-weekly formulation of the drug Byetta (exenatide), currently awaiting approval by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA approved the twice-daily formulation of the drug in 2005.

“To ensure that you benefit from this value opportunity, it is imperative that Amylin has the best possible board of directors,” Bradbury and Wilson wrote in the letter.

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