PHARMACY

AmerisourceBergen sees earnings surge across the board

BY Allison Cerra

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. AmerisourceBergen is off to a good start in 2010 with a 44% increase in earnings per share, compared with the year-ago period.

During first-quarter fiscal 2010, which ended Dec. 31, the company recorded more positive numbers: as its earnings rose to 52 cents per share, revenue also rose 11.5% to $19.3 billion.

Gross profit also increased 8 basis points to 2.91%. The company said the profit spike was driven by strong growth in generic sales.

In line with the earnings report, AmerisourceBergen raised its fiscal 2010 EPS outlook from $1.89 to $1.98. Recently, the company announced a new program for long-term care pharmacies and an expanded program for retail pharmacies, under its PRxO Generics Solution. The new solutions are tailored to better meet customer needs as generic prescription demands continue to increase.

“We delivered exceptional performance across all our businesses, reflecting strong revenue growth, successful generic drug launches, and continued expense and working capital discipline,” said David Yost, AmerisourceBergen’s president and CEO.

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Novartis’ Vasella to focus on being chairman, bows out from CEO role

BY Alaric DeArment

BASEL, Switzerland Daniel Vasella will step down as CEO of Novartis to focus on his position as chairman, with pharmaceutical division head Joe Jimenez taking his place, the Swiss drug maker announced Tuesday.

The leadership change comes amid news that the company had net sales of $44.3 billion in 2009, a 7% rise over the year before, along with an 8% rise in profits, to $10.3 billion. Among individual divisions, generics arm Sandoz saw a rise by 5%, when factoring in currency exchange rates, along with 12% for pharmaceuticals, 39% for vaccines and diagnostics –– driven by sales of the H1N1 vaccine –– and 5% for consumer health.

“Novartis delivered an excellent performance in 2009, driven by strong underlying growth across our entire healthcare portfolio,” Vasella said.

That includes more than 30 new product approvals in the United States, Europe and Japan, including the launch of the schizophrenia treatment Fanapt (iloperidone) and Japanese approvals of the diabetes treatment Equa (vildagliptin), the hypertension drug Exforge (valsartan and amlodipine) and the kidney cancer drug Afinitor (everolimus).

All of the divisions expect to grow in 2010 except for vaccines and diagnostics, which expects lower sales than in 2009 despite expected approval of the meningococcal meningitis vaccine Menveo. The company also expects to acquire a 77% stake in the eye-care company Alcon from Nestle and subsequently acquire the remaining 23%.

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Oral painkiller approved in line with FDA’s unapproved drugs initiative

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has given the green light to an oral painkiller as part of its unapproved drugs initiative, the agency announced Tuesday.

The FDA approved Roxane Labs’ morphine sulfate oral solution in the 100-mg-per-5 milliliter and 20-mg-per-milliliter strengths for the relief of moderate to severe, acute and chronic pain in opioid-tolerant patients.

 

The FDA granted the approval under a program that began in March 2009 to regulate so-called “grandfathered” drugs – mostly narcotics – that have long been prescribed without approval because they entered the market before the agency adopted its current regulatory policies.

“An important goal of the unapproved drugs initiative is to make sure that marketed drugs meet current FDA standards,” FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research deputy director Douglas Throckmorton said. “Our action today reflects a careful balance between ensuring patient access to necessary medicines, while making sure companies comply with the law.”

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