PHARMACY

Dr. Reddy’s Labs launches Prograf generic

BY Alaric DeArment

HYDERABAD, India Dr. Reddy’s Labs has launched a treatment for organ transplant patients, the Indian generic drug maker said Friday.

Dr. Reddy’s launched tacrolimus capsules in the 0.5-mg, 1-mg and 5-mg strengths. The drug is an immune system suppressant used to prevent rejection of transplanted livers, kidneys and hearts.

Tacrolimus capsules are a generic version of Astellas’ Prograf. Prograf and generic versions had combined sales of around $955 million in the United States during the 12-month period ended in March, according to IMS Health.

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Asda to sell cancer drugs on ‘not-for-profit’ basis

BY Alaric DeArment

LEEDS, U.K. A retailer in the United Kingdom said Thursday it would become the first to sell cancer drugs to customers at cost.

Asda, one of the country’s largest retailers and a division of Walmart, said it would sell the drugs on a “not-for-profit” basis. For example, AstraZeneca’s lung cancer drug Iressa (gefitinib) will sell for $3,112.73, compared with prices ranging from more than $3,734.92 to $4,671.97 at other retailers, based on present currency exchange rates.

“The crippling cost of paying privately for cancer treatments has forced many people to spend their savings or even re-mortgage their house to pay for these essential drugs,” Asda superintendent pharmacist John Evans said. “We are the first retailer to recognize this injustice and to do something about it, and we are calling on other retailers to follow our lead.”

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Salix receives patent for IBS treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

RALEIGH, N.C. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a patent to Salix Pharmaceuticals for a drug to treat irritable bowel syndrome, Salix said Thursday.

The patent, 7,718,608, will protect the drug Xifaxan (rifaximin) until August 2019. Salix is producing and marketing the drug under license from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

“The issuance of the ‘608 patent is yet another example of how we have strengthened the intellectual property protection for rifaximin over the past 18 months,” Salix CEO Carolyn Logan said. “We view patent protection as an essential component of our product life-cycle management strategy to protect the indications in development as well as the products in our portfolio.”

Salix’s announcement comes the day after Soligenix received a patent for beclomethasone dipropionate, also for IBS.

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