AstraZeneca: Unwitting Advocate for Disclosure?

Erik Greb PharmTech editorHealthcare-reform legislation is not the only federal initiative that is affecting pharmaceutical manufacturers these days. US Attorney General Eric Holder is cracking down on healthcare fraud, including false claims against Medicare and Medicaid. AstraZeneca (London) felt the sting of Holder’s campaign when it agreed last week to pay $520 million to resolve accusations that it marketed its atypical antipsychotic Seroquel illegally. Read more »

The Unkindest Cuts of All

Erik Greb PharmTech editorThese days, mandatory furloughs and staff cuts have employees in all industries nervously glancing over their shoulders. The pharmaceutical industry is no exception. Last week, Merck (Whitehouse Station, NJ) revealed plans to reduce its workforce by 15% by the end of 2012. Read more »

Rodney Dangerfield and R&D

Erik Greb PharmTech editorThese days, research scientists, much like Rodney Dangerfield, can’t get any respect. The latest evidence of this arrived on Friday, when AstraZeneca (London) proposed to cut 3500 research and development (R&D) jobs by 2014. Read more »

The XX Files

Erik Greb PharmTech editorIt’s a new year and the cusp of a new decade. In boardrooms and management suites, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical executives are asking each other how their companies can develop innovative new products and turn a profit in the coming years. Here’s my unsolicited advice: hire more women managers. Read more »

Can Insurance Companies Help Improve Health?

Angie Drakulich PharmTech editorUnitedHealth Group, a Minneapolis-based healthcare company, recently announced that it would soon provide a price break to members who correctly use certain asthma and antidepressant drugs. The news was reported in a Wall Street Journal article by Peter Loftus of Dow Jones Newswires.  

To get the $20 copay discount, members must refill their prescriptions within about 30 days after their last prescription runs out. Eligible drugs include GlaxoSmithKline’s Advair, AstraZeneca’s Symbicort, Eli Lilly’s Cymbalta, Wyeth’s Effexor XR, and Wyeth’s Pristiq. The discount applies to members who have a normal copay of $50 on these drugs, meaning the new copay would be $30, according to Loftus’ article. Read more »

The Changing Face of PhRMA

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editor The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) announced this week that it is creating a new committee of its board of directors dedicated to small biopharmaceutical companies. The committee will be composed of full and research associate members. In a separate item, late last month, Roche confirmed that it was leaving PhRMA to join the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the US-based trade group representing the biotechnology industry, in the wake of Roche’s recent acquisition of Genentech. Taken on one level, these moves simply reflect an organizational change by a well-established association to better serve and broaden its membership and the strategic shift of one member company. On another level, however, these moves reveal broader dynamics shaping the focus of the pharmaceutical industry. Read more »

Biologics: A Gamble or Safe Bet?

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editorPfizer announced this week that following a successful completion of its $68-billion acquisition of Wyeth, it will divide its research activities into two separate organizations, one for small molecules and one for biologics and vaccines. The reorganization is but a microcosm of Big Pharma’s larger strategic interest to strengthen its position in biologics with the hopes of improving its return on research and development (R&D). But is the calculus of intensifying R&D into biologics correct? Read more »

What a Week for Job Losses

Alexis Brekke Pellek PharmTech editorSome people saw it coming. Others were blindsided by a pink slip. The recent wave of job cuts this week added more people to the growing ranks of the nation’s unemployed. A CNNMoney article today puts the week’s total to more than 100,000 so far. Read more »

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