PHARMACY

Sanofi-Aventis to acquire TargeGen

BY Allison Cerra

SAN DIEGO A biotechnology company will be acquired by one of the world’s largest drug makers.

Sanofi-Aventis’ acquisition of TargeGen is expected to occur in third quarter 2010 for approximately $560 million.

Formed in 2001, TargeGen’s most advanced drug candidate is TG101348, an internally discovered, oral, potent and highly selective JAK2 kinase inhibitor being developed for the treatment of patients with myeloproliferative diseases, including primary and secondary myelofibrosis and polycythemia vera. There currently are no approved drugs to treat MF or PV.

“Sanofi-Aventis brings significant strength and resources to the continued development and potential commercialization of TG101348. With their global focus on oncology and long-term commitment to this patient population, we are confident they will maximize the treatment potential of TG101348 across multiple clinical indications,” said Peter G. Ulrich, president, CEO and co-founder of TargeGen. “Further, their decision to acquire TargeGen at this time validates the company’s belief that TG101348 has the potential to be the best-in-class compound in terms of providing meaningful new treatment options for patients with myeloproliferative diseases and certain other hematological malignancies.”

Peter J. Solomon Co. served as financial advisers to TargeGen relative to this transaction.

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Teva’s generic Effexor XR receives regulatory approval

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic version of an extended-release antidepressant pill made by Pfizer, the agency said Tuesday.

The FDA approved Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules. The capsules are a generic version of Effexor XR, used to treat major depressive disorder. The capsules will be available in the 37.5 mg, 75 mg and 150 mg strengths.

“The approval of this widely used antidepressant is another example of the FDA’s efforts to increase access to safe and effective generic drugs,” said Keith Webber, FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Pharmaceutical Science deputy director. “Access to treatments for depression is important because depression can interfere with a person’s daily life and routine, which can significantly affect relationships with family and friends.”

Effexor products had sales of $520 million in 2009, according to Pfizer financial data.

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NACDS, NCPA back senatorial MTM bill

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association have voiced their support of the Senate medication therapy management bill, authored and introduced Tuesday by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., as it aims to further pave the way for enhanced pharmacist-provided MTM services.

Hagan’s Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010 would enhance pharmacist-provided MTM services for Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries by opening MTM services to patients suffering from any chronic condition or disease. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is an original co-sponsor of the bill.

"By encouraging MTM services in neighborhood pharmacies, the bill would improve public health and reduce healthcare costs by helping patients to take their medications in the right ways and avoid complications with their drug therapies," stated NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. "Patients suffering from chronic disease, be it diabetes, hypertension, asthma or other conditions, will benefit from these pharmacy services, which also strengthen the pharmacist-patient relationship. We thank Senators Hagan and Franken for their commitment to improving health care in a way that stands to reduce costs and improve lives."

Added Douglas Hoey, NCPA acting EVP and CEO, "For many Medicare Part D patients, the challenges of coping with numerous chronic conditions and diseases require an expert’s consultation, and pharmacists are clinically trained in helping ensure their patients are getting the best possible results. The bill offered by Senators Hagan and Franken is the next logical step in broadening the reach of MTM. NCPA urges the Senate to move expeditiously to pass this bill, because true healthcare reform needs to incorporate all the best practices."

The bill is the Senate’s companion to H.R. 3108, the Medication Therapy Management Benefits Act of 2009, introduced by Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., last year and endorsed by NACDS and NCPA.

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