Friday, October 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 8:58 AM
In this Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 photo, Merck scientist Meizhen Feng conducts research to discover new HIV drugs in West Point, Pa. Merck reports quarterly earnings on Tuesday, July 30, 3013. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Merck's efforts to re-organize and re-energize itself to boost production of profitable medicine has included more licensing deals with smaller companies.

Tuesday brought another deal with Bionomics, an Australian company that has worked with Merck previously and will now work on the hunt for medicine for Alzheimer's disease.

According to the Bionomics, and as noted in the Pharma Letter, Merck will pay for all research and development, including clinical development, and will be responsible for worldwide commercialization of any products from the collaboration.

POSTED: Monday, June 23, 2014, 9:52 AM
Adderall is among the ADHD medicines made by Shire.

Drugmaker Shire Plc., which is trying to fend off a $46.5 billion takeover offer from AbbVie, told investment analysts in a Monday conference call that it hopes to double its revenue by 2020.

Shire is based in Ireland, but has operations in Wayne and Exton.

The Irish base is at least part of the reason that Shire is being pursued by AbbVie. Companies, especially in healthcare, have been scrambling of late to buy other companies so they can re-register in Ireland, which has lower corporate tax rates than the United States. Relatively few employees move to Ireland in such acquisitions. In the language of accounting, this is called tax inversion.

POSTED: Friday, June 20, 2014, 6:37 AM
Shire P.L.C. (Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer)
Drugmaker Shire, Plc., which is based in Ireland but has operations in Exton and Wayne, said Friday that its board has rejected a $46.5 billion takeover offer from AbbVie.

AbbVie, like some other pharmaceutical companies, is looking for a takeover target that would allow it to shift its official residence to Ireland, which has a lower corporate tax rate than the United States.

AbbVie is the drug portion of the recently-separated company that used to be Abbott Laboratories, and its headquarters is in North Chicago, Ill.



POSTED: Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 8:57 AM
Gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla. (AP Photo, File)
Georgia and Missouri resumed capital punishment Tuesday and Wednesday, using lethal injections of drugs, and Florida is scheduled join the pack Wednesday evening.

Big or mid-size drug companies have seen the public relations problem of saying they are all about health (and profits) when their drugs are being injected into inmates - however horrible their crimes might have been - for the sake of killing them. The other problem is that most drugmakers can't - or choose not to - track their drugs all the way from factory to patient.

Hospira was one of the last U.S.-based companies with a direct connection to products used in the usual three-drug cocktail, but it put restrictions in place, it said in a statement (link here).

POSTED: Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 7:21 AM
Drugmaker Shire, which is based for tax purposes in Ireland but operates from Wayne and Exton, reportedly hired investment bank Citi because it expects larger pharmaceutical companies to make takeover offers in the wake of other tax-induced deals.

Reuters reported Shire hired Citi. Citi declined comment, according to Reuters.

Shire's best selling drug is Vyvanse, which is prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

POSTED: Monday, June 16, 2014, 6:18 AM
Medical device maker Medtronic said Sunday that it will buy rival Covidien for $42.9 billion, which will help Medtronic challenge Johnson & Johnson and avoid paying U.S. corporate taxes.

Medtronic is headquartered in Minneapolis. Covidien's leadership operates from a facility south of Boston, but it is officially registered in Ireland, which has much lower corporate taxes than the United States. Covidien had been in Bermuda, another tax haven. Medtronic will keep operational control in Minneapolis, but officially register in Ireland.

The deal, first reported Saturday by the Wall Street Journal, is another example of a health-care company trying to acquire another at least partly to shift tax domicile to Ireland or other low-tax countries. In the lexicon of accounting, it is called a tax inversion.

POSTED: Friday, June 13, 2014, 9:15 AM
Having fended off Pfizer - for now, at least - AstraZeneca struck a much smaller deal to license a potential asthma drug being developed by Synairgen.

AstraZeneca is based in the United Kingdom - London for now, but moving the headquarters to Cambridge - and has operations in Wilmington and Newark, Del. Synairgen is also based in the UK.

The Synairgen compound, for now called SNG001, is in the second of three phases of clinical trials, so the outcome is far from certain on whether it can treating respiratory tract viral infections in patients with severe asthma. SNG001 supports the immune system by correcting a deficiency which makes patients vulnerable to respiratory tract viral infections, according to an AstraZeneca statement.

POSTED: Thursday, June 12, 2014, 7:50 AM
U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger spoke at a Temple University meeting held to discuss the misuse of prescription drugs. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer)
Zane Memeger, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Peter Doukas, dean of Temple University’s School of Pharmacy, hosted a daylong series of discussions under the title of “Rx for Prevention: Preventing and Responding to Prescription Drug Abuse on Campus.”

Villanova helped organize the event, but the site was the Howard Gittis Student Center on Temple's North Philadelphia campus. A story on the gathering appeared in Thursday's Inquirer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last year that middle age and older adults are the groups most often misusing prescription opioid painkillers, but teenagers and young adults are other problem groups. While they don't have the achy bones of older citizens, young adults sometimes believe they are invincible, which is especially dangerous when mixed with ignorance about the potential danger of prescription drugs. In March of this year, CDC researchers said family, friends and doctors were the most common source of opioid painkillers obtained illegally. (Link here.)

About this blog
David Sell blogs about the region's pharmaceutical industry. Follow him on Facebook.

For Inquirer.com. Portions of this blog may also be found in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section.

Reach David at dsell@phillynews.com.

David Sell
Business Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected