PHARMACY

Walgreens broadens texting, mobile features

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Moving fast to stay in front of the revolution in electronic communications and social networking, Walgreens Tuesday unveiled new text messaging and mobile applications for prescription customers on the go.

Among the new convenience features Walgreens is adding for customers who rely on text messages and smart phones: Prescription Text Alerts, which notify customers via text message when their prescriptions are ready, and of any changes in status. Alerts also can include information on store specials, along with exclusive Walgreens deals and coupons via text message.

The company also has relaunched its iPhone application and mobile site, m.walgreens.com.

The steady advances coming out of Walgreens are a bid “to lead the market in bringing new and innovative technology to our pharmacies and pharmacy patients,” according to Mark Wagner, EVP operations and community management.

“Text alerts are a valuable time-saving tool, and the latest example of how our mobile applications are further connecting the Web to Walgreens stores and pharmacies,” Wagner added.

Walgreens’ newly expanded list of iPhone applications includes:

  • Photo account registration, through which customers can set up an account to upload photos and order prints from an iPhone direct from the Walgreens mobile site;
  • A feature that allows shoppers to browse products and check their in-store availability;
  • Access to patients’ prescription histories, 24/7;
  • A one-touch GPS store locator, available through a “Find store near me” icon on the homepage.

In addition, Blackberry and Android users can download the Walgreens mobile site application from their respective marketplaces for access to the mobile site features.

Customers can sign up for text alerts – also available in Spanish – at any Walgreens pharmacy or online at www.walgreens.com/gomobile.

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Gilead patent for Ranexa challenged by Lupin

BY Alaric DeArment

FOSTER CITY, Calif. Indian generic drug maker Lupin is challenging a Gilead Sciences patent for a drug that treats chronic angina, Gilead said.

Gilead said it received a notice that Lupin had filed an approval application with the Food and Drug Administration for a generic version of Ranexa (ranolazine) extended-release tablets. Lupin’s application contained a Paragraph IV certification, a legal assertion under the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984 that Gilead’s patents covering Ranexa are invalid, unenforceable or won’t be infringed by Lupin’s version.

Under the Hatch-Waxman Act, Gilead has 45 days from the receipt of the letter to file a patent infringement lawsuit against Lupin. Such a suit would prohibit the FDA from approving Lupin’s version of the drug for two and a half years or until the court rules against Gilead. The patents covering Ranexa are set to expire in 2019, according to FDA records.

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Taro sales rise in Q1

BY Alaric DeArment

HAWTHORNE, N.Y. First-quarter sales for Taro Pharmaceutical Industries increased by 5.2% to $89.3 million from $84.9 million in first quarter 2009, the Israeli generic drug maker said Monday.

Profit for the quarter was $10.2 million, compared with $11.1 million in first quarter 2009, including a $3.8 million decrease resulting from foreign exchange expenses related to changes in rates between the U.S. and Canadian dollars.

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