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WMerck & Co. announces merger with Schering-Plough

BY Drug Store News Team

The last few weeks have seen a lot of acquisition activity among large pharmaceutical companies.

 

First, Pfizer announced in January that it would acquire Wyeth for approximately $68 billion. This month saw three more mergers: Merck & Co.’s $41.1 billion purchase of Schering-Plough Corp., Roche’s $46.8 billion purchase of Genentech and Gilead Science’s purchase of CV Therapeutics.

 

Driving much of the consolidation activity is the need to diversify, as big pharma companies continue to wrestle with weak top-line growth prospects, as big blockbuster approvals slow down and generic competition intensifies.

 

With the economic downturn, many patients are struggling with their medication regimens, often skipping doses, failing to get prescriptions filled or increasing use of OTC products.

 

 

OTC products tend not to deliver the kinds of profits that blockbuster prescription drugs do, but they do deliver a steady flow of money into drug companies’ coffers. Merck and Pfizer will both benefit from this, given the strong OTC portfolios of Wyeth and Schering-Plough.

 

 

But prescription drug portfolios, many of which face generic competition in the next few years, will benefit as well. Merck’s purchase of Schering-Plough will bring its total of drug candidates in phase 3 testing to 18. Gilead will bolster its cardiovascular drug portfolio, while Roche will gain a whole slew of biotech drugs.

 

 

Gilead’s purchase of CV was the smallest, at $1.4 billion, but the other three deals were worth more than $40 billion each. Such large mergers may signify a new era of consolidation among big drug companies as they seek to beef up their portfolios and pipelines.

 

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Lack of sleep can increase risk of diabetes, study shows

BY Alaric DeArment

BUFFALO, N.Y. Insufficient sleep every night can increase the risk of diabetes, a new study shows.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo in New York found that people who sleep less than six hours a night are 4.5 times more likely to have elevated blood sugar than those who get six to eight hours of sleep. A fasting glucose level of more than 100 is known as prediabetes.

The researchers presented their findings at the American Heart Association’s 49th annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

The findings were based on data from a six-year follow-up of patients who took part in the Western New York Health Study, conducted between 1996 and 2001. The 91 people who started out with normal fasting glucose levels but later developed pre-diabetes were compared to those who maintained normal glucose. The study participants were placed into three groups: those who slept less than six hours, those who slept more than eight hours and those who slept between six and eight hours.

“This study supports growing evidence of the association of inadequate sleep with adverse health issues,” said study lead author Lisa Rafalson. “Genetic susceptibility is always a possible explanation for this finding, but it is more likely that pathways involving hormones and the nervous system are involved in the impared-sleep [and] fasting glucose association.”

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PhRMA: White House Healthcare Summit “offers opportunity for input into reform”

BY DSN STAFF

WASHINGTON An organization that represents the drug industry said Thursday that the White House’s healthcare summit in Dearborn, Mich., part of a series that will include several cities, “offers opportunity for input into reform.”

“Through a series of White House health reform summits taking place in Dearborn and other cities across the country over the next two months, a diverse group of stakeholders – including patients, physicians, industry, labor and government – will be openly discussing key elements needed in a comprehensive healthcare reform package,” said Billy Tauzin, president, CEO Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. “These discussions are critical to help ensure that healthcare reform remains a top national priority this year and does not fall by the wayside.”

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