PHARMACY

PhRMA taps AstraZeneca executive as chairman of the board

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN ANTONIO The CEO of AstraZeneca has been elected chairman of the board of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

PhRMA elected David Brennan to the position at its annual meeting Friday.

In a speech to meeting attendees, Brennan said that all segments of the healthcare system need to collaborate on meaningful healthcare reform that includes increased access to health and prescription drug coverage for the uninsured and underinsured, greater emphasis on disease prevention to reduce the burden of chronic diseases on individuals and the healthcare system as a whole, reduced co-pays for prescription drugs and ample funding for the Food and Drug Administration.

“The pharmaceutical industry is uniquely poised to be both a source of innovative medicines and a trusted member of the healthcare community,” Brennan said. “Pharmaceutical researchers and manufacturers can play a critical role in advancing health solutions that build on the strengths of the U.S. healthcare system and address its weaknesses.”

Brennan will serve as board chairman for a year.

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PHARMACY

Astellas Pharma introduces new formulation of Vaprisol

BY Alaric DeArment

DEERFIELD, Ill. Astellas Pharma US announced this week the introduction of a new formulation of a drug for treating hyponatremia.

The Tokyo-based drug maker introduced Vaprisol (conivaptan hydrochloride injection) Premixed in 5% Dextrose, a new premixed formulation. The Food and Drug Administration originally approved the drug in October.

“It is imperative to promptly address hyponatremia in emergency and hospital settings,” Georgetown University medicine and physiology professor Joseph Verbalis said in a statement. “Vaprisol Premixed in 5% Dextrose is a convenient option for quickly preparing treatment for hyponatremia patients.”

Hyponatremia is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s blood sodium level falls significantly below normal. It is present in about 28% of patients upon admission into acute hospital care, and another 14% acquire it while in acute care. It can result in swelling of the brain, respiratory arrest, catastrophic brain damage and death.

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Diabetes drug makers experience stock jump

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Shares of two large drug makers focused on diabetes increased Wednesday afternoon despite declines in the drug industry as a whole, according to published reports.

The Amex Pharmaceutical Index and Amex Biotechnology Index fell, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased after a fall earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, however, shares of Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk and San Diego-based drug maker Amylin Pharmaceuticals increased respectively by 4%, to $49.95, and 3%, to $12.12.

Amylin had released a study earlier in the week showing that a long-acting formulation of the diabetes drug Byetta (exenatide) that has not yet been launched outperformed Merck & Co.’s Januvia (sitagliptin) and Takeda’s Actos (pioglitazone hydrochloride) in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

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