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Watson files for approval of generic painkiller

BY Alaric DeArment

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Watson Pharmaceuticals is looking to become the first to market a generic version of a painkiller made by Pfizer, the drug maker said Friday.

Watson said it filed a regulatory approval application with the Food and Drug Administration for morphine sulfate and naltrexone hydrochloride extended-release capsules in the 30-mg/1.2-mg, 50-mg/2-mg, 60-mg/2.4-mg, 80-mg/3.2-mg and 100-mg/4-mg strengths. The drug is a generic version of Embeda, made by Pfizer subsidiary King Pharmaceuticals.

Pfizer, King and Alpharma Pharmaceuticals filed a patent infringement suit against Watson Thursday, alleging that Watson’s product violates three patents covering Embeda. Filed under the provisions of the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984 — the law that created an abbreviated approval pathway for generic pharmaceuticals — the suit puts a stay of final FDA approval of the drug for 30 months, or until the companies settle.

Embeda had sales of about $42 million during the 12-month period ended in August, according to IMS Health.


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Survey: Shoppers compelled to buy when armed with online coupons, coupon codes

BY Allison Cerra

AUSTIN, Texas — Online coupons and coupon codes could drive sales for businesses, according to a new study.

The research, conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of WhaleShark Media, found that among 504 coupon site users surveyed, active coupon users reported not only spent more than less active coupon users ($1,850 versus $1,025), nearly three-quarters of active coupon users (74%) polled said that they more likely would try a new brand if they received a coupon or promotion code, versus 54% of less active coupon users. Additionally, visitors to online coupon sites made 18% more online purchases in the last six months and said they expect to spend 16% more (compared with other shoppers) in the next 12 months.

When it came to how coupons or coupon codes motivated spending, 88% said the promotions helped “close the deal” on their decision to make a purchase; 60% said they would be more likely to reconsider purchasing an item that hadn’t previously bought if they received an online coupon or promotion code. A majority of those surveyed said online coupons and coupon codes boost a company’s brand image (80%) and prompt positive feeling towards companies that offer them (88%).

Although it is known that online coupon use is on the rise, WhaleShark Media, which operates such couponing sites as CouponShare.com, Deals.com, RetailMeNot.com and more, said it commissioned the survey to understand what this meant to those providing the deals (i.e., retailers and suppliers).

“The results are very compelling, suggesting that a mix of creative and effective retailer marketing, coupled with savvy and resourceful shoppers, can dramatically spur shopping activity and retailer sales,” WhaleShark Media CEO Cotter Cunningham said.

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Walgreens, Express Scripts reach agreement on two plans in Puerto Rico

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — MMM Healthcare and PMC Medicare Choice on Friday announced that MMM and PMC members will continue to have access to the Walgreens pharmacy network. Walgreens and Express Scripts have reached an agreement specifically regarding these plans in Puerto Rico, according to a Walgreens spokesperson.

"We are extremely satisfied that Express Scripts, our pharmacy services administrator, and Walgreens were able to reach an agreement so that the MMM and PMC members can continue accessing Walgreens pharmacies," MMM and PMC president Orlando Gonzalez said. "Although we have an ample pharmacy network, our main interest is to ensure that our members have adequate and timely access to their medications on the Island or when they travel stateside."

"This contract will enable us to continue providing our convenient, accessible pharmacy services to the thousands of MMM and PMC members in Puerto Rico after Dec. 31, and is evidence of the commitment Walgreens has in working with our partners to continue serving our patients and customers," Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness services Kermit Crawford said.

MMM Healthcare is one of the leading companies in the Medicare Advantage segment on the Island, with more than 153,000 covered lives and more than 8,000 providers. The company was the first plan authorized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to serve the Medicare Advantage market in Puerto Rico.

A sister plan to MMM, PMC Medicare Choice provides extended benefits to the Medicare population. Founded in 2004, PMC covers more than 47,000 lives through a broad network of more than 8,000 contracted primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals and other points of care across Puerto Rico.


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