Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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POSTED: Sunday, July 28, 2013, 11:06 PM
Trevena, a 30-person drug company in King of Prussia, is led by CEO Maxine Gowen, formerly with GlaxoSmithKline. Cofounder Jonathan Violin is head of biology. Gowen says finding financing takes up about 50 percent of her time. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)

Trevena chief executive officer Maxine Gowen leads a 30-person pharmaceutical company, whose lead product is in phase 2b of development and, thus, years from generating revenue. But she also worked at a giant drugmaker, GlaxoSmithKline, which had 103,000 employees when she departed at the end of 2007, according to GSK's annual report.

Gowen shared her thoughts on running a small business in Monday's Inquirer. Trevena is in King of Prussia, just outside of Philadelphia. A link is to the story is here and the Inquirer's Tom Gralish has a video report, too.

Gowen had plenty of interesting thoughts on a range of health-care issues that didn't fit in the print edition, so we'll share them here. She grew up in the United Kingdom with its National Health Service and but has lived in the United States for most of 20 years. She and her husband, Brian, have three sons, one of whom is a scientist at Trevena.

POSTED: Friday, July 26, 2013, 7:28 AM

Teva Pharmaceuticals and the Lonza Group AG said Thursday they are ending their joint venture, which was supposed to help each drug company develop biosimilar medication.

However, part of the impetus to cancel the deal is that Lonza was struggling with a different part of its operation: wood treatment.

Yes, wood and pharmaceutical products both involve biology, but apparently there was not enough profitable synergy past that connection.

POSTED: Friday, July 26, 2013, 4:58 PM

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., was hurt Friday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of generic companies in a patent dispute over Teva's top-selling drug, Copaxone.

Copaxone is injected by patients to treat multiple sclerosis. If the court decision stands and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves generic versions, cheaper medicine might be on the market as early as May 25, 2014 instead of 2015. That might help patients, but it will likely hurt Teva's profits.

Teva's stock closed Friday at $40.73, down 53 cents or 1.28 percent.

POSTED: Thursday, July 25, 2013, 8:52 AM
Teva's Plan B' One-Step, a one-pill emergency contraceptive, sometimes referred to as a morning-after pill is finally going over-the-counter. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, June 20, 2013, approved unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step, lifting all age limits on the emergency contraceptive. (AP Photo/Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc., File)

The morning-after contraceptive pill debate began anew this week when the FDA late on Monday evening quietly said that Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., would have three years of exclusive rights to sell Plan B One-Step oral contraceptives to anyone of any age as an over-the-counter product.

For more than a decade, women's health groups have pushed the FDA to make such contraceptives more available to women of all ages without a prescription. The contraceptive is designed to work within 72 hours of sexual intercourse.

Women's groups have argued that women should have choice about pregnancy and that unwanted pregnancies are costly and bad for society, the mothers and the children brought into the world under those terms. The concerns of the women's groups often involved barriers to acquiring the medicine, including having a prescription, the need to ask a pharmacist, limited hours of pharmacies even if the drug store is open, lack of identification and price.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 8:45 AM
GlaxoSmithKline chief executive Andrew Witty at the drugmaker's new home at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. (Akira Suwa / Staff Photographer)

GlaxoSmithKline chief executive officer Andrew Witty said Wednesday that the head office in London was not aware of the activity of some of the company's executives in China, who have been accused of using travel agencies to pay off doctors and other health-care providers to increase sales of medicine.

In a conference call with reporters following the release of the GSK's second quarter financial results, Witty said the most recent China problem - and he said there were two distinct ones - allegedly involved some executives "defrauding" the company and the Chinese health care system.

"To see these allegations about people working for GSK is, as we've said, shameful," Witty said. "For me, personally, they are deeply disappointing. These allegations are totally contrary to our values. Outside and inside the company, people rightly expect us to operate with integrity. To be crystal clear, we have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior. We are absolutely committed to rooting out corruption."

POSTED: Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 8:05 AM

America's health care system is still largely fee for service, which breeds independence and self-interest (and often profit) among different types of providers, with no better outcomes and greater cost to many patients and taxpayers. That has made figuring out a coordinated, outcome-based system difficult.

Perhaps, then, it's not surprising that America's farm policy and health policy are even less coordinated, if that is possible.

The Food and Drug Administration is one agency, with a mission to ensure the safety of both food and drugs, but that is about the extent of coordination.

POSTED: Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 7:57 AM
Kate Duchess of Cambridge, left, speaks with guests at a Garden Party hosted by Queen Elizabeth II in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, central London Wednesday May 22, 2013. (AP)

Yes, of course, there is a connection between Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton giving birth Monday to the Royal Baby and the pharmaceutical industry in Philadelphia.

Beyond the blatant desire of PhillyPharma to drive traffic to inquirer.com, pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca have Philly-area operations and headquarters in London, site of the royal baby's birth. GSK chief executive Andrew Witty received a knighthood after landing on Queen Elizabeth II's New Year's Honors List, though it's unclear whether that has impressed the Chinese officials currently claiming to be unhappy with the marketing habits of some GSK folks inside China. Prince Harry, younger brother of new father, Prince William, was at the Jersey Shore recently, hanging with Chris Christie. Did we mention Google, People magazine, Nate Silver, Facebook and.....well, that should help with some SEO.

Anyway, silver (baby) spoon or not, births are births. And sometimes pharmaceutical products are used in the delivery of children. PhillyPharma staff members have been to delivery rooms and heard screams, er, uh, suggestions, that more medication might be considered.

POSTED: Monday, July 22, 2013, 8:39 AM

Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline said Monday morning after another meeting with officials from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security that, "certain senior executives of GSK China who know our systems well, appear to have acted outside of our processes and controls which breaches Chinese law."

GSK is based in London, but has operations in Philadelphia's Navy Yard and in surrounding towns in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Chinese officials have said that some China-based GSK executives routed money through travel agencies to pay off doctors and other healthcare personnel to sell more medicine.

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
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