Monday, December 29, 2014

POSTED: Monday, September 9, 2013, 7:54 AM

Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline said Monday that it had agreed to sell its nutritional drink brands Lucozade and Ribena to Japan-based Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd, for $2.1 billion.

GSK, which is based in London and has operations in Philadelphia and surrounding areas, said in February that it would look for a buyer for the drink brands because it wanted to focus more on its pharmaceutical products. GSK will use the cash to reduce debt.

“Lucozade and Ribena are iconic brands that have made a huge contribution to GSK over the years, but now is the right time to sell them as we increase the focus of our Consumer Healthcare business and execute the delivery of our late stage pipeline of pharmaceuticals and vaccines," David Redfern, GSK's chief strategy officer, said in a statement. "We believe the future of Lucozade and Ribena is in good hands given SBF’s established beverages business, ambitious growth plans and also their recognition of the strong performance and capability of the GSK employees working on these products.”

POSTED: Monday, September 9, 2013, 7:38 AM

Teleflex Inc. was founded in 1943 with a single product - a cable contraption that allowed World War II pilots in Spitfire fighter planes to adjust their radios, even though the radio was behind the cockpit and out of arm's reach. The flexible cable was extended and retracted telescopically, from which the company name was born.

Seventy years later, Teleflex is still headquartered in Pennsylvania - though that will move early in 2014 from Limerick to Wayne - and it still makes strands that help reach into hard-to-reach places. But that's about where the similarity ends, as demonstrated in a modern, global way Thursday.

The company broadcast a live webcast/webinar from the operating room of a hospital in the Netherlands. One of the company's newer catheters - the Rusch EZ-Blocker Endobronchial Blocker - was threaded into the lung of a patient during cardiothoracic surgery. On Friday the patient was recovering normally, the company said.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 4, 2013, 8:42 AM

In the wake of the $130 billion swap of stock, cash and other considerations between Verizon and Vodafone, the Associated Press, with help from the research firm Dealogic, updated the list of the biggest corporate acquisitions in history and two pharmaceutical deals remain in the top 10.

Mobile phone giant Verizon is buying out Vodafone, which held 45 percent of Verizon. That transaction would be second on the big-money list.

My former Inquirer colleague Mike Armstrong disliked the term merger because almost always one company is taking over another, with somebody or a lot of somebodies, exiting the company that is purchased. Perhaps they exited richer, but they exited either way.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 3, 2013, 9:15 AM
Tony Zook, former executive at AstraZeneca, serves on the Frostburg State board of trustees

Tony Zook, who was part of the leadership at AstraZeneca until earlier this year, resigned for health reasons from his post as chief executive officer of California drugmaker Vivus, Inc.

Zook, who has a degree in chemical engineering from from Penn State and has served on the board of the Pennsylvania Division of the American Cancer Society, said in a statement that unspecified health concerns did not allow him to devote enough time to the job he was named to on July 22.

Zook will be replaced by former Johnson & Johnson executive Seth Fischer, who is the third leader of the company this year. Vivus developed an obesity drug, Qsymia, but did not sell enough of the product to meet the demands of the private equity company holding the most stock, First Manhattan, Co.

POSTED: Friday, August 30, 2013, 8:03 AM
Tylenol is shown in the drug department at Costco in Mountain View, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Extra Strength Tylenol bottles will soon have a new warning about the potentially fatal risks of taking too much of the pain reliever, whose active ingredient is acetaminophen. Tylenol is an over-the-counter product, meaning a prescription is not required for most dosages.

Faced with dozens of lawsuits by patients claiming liver damage, Johnson & Johnson and its McNeil Consumer Healthcare division announced the changes Thursday. A link to the company's page is here.

The McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit's headquarters is in Fort Washington, Montgomery County. The company has a manufacturing facility on that property, though it has not produced medicine since April of 2010 because of problem with contaminated medicine. A federal judge and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed McNeil plants in Lancaster and Puerto Rico to operate under greater restrictions.

POSTED: Thursday, August 29, 2013, 8:32 AM
Teva CEO Jeremy Levin.

Teva Pharmaceuticals shareholders met in Tel Aviv this week and voted to approve the compensation package for chief executive officer Jeremy Levin - despite increasing pressure on the company from Wall Street analysts.

Teva is based in Israel and has operations in the Philadelphia area. Its Americas headquarters is in Montgomery County. Teva sells more generic medicine than any other pharmaceutical company and is trying to increase revenue with higher-profit, brand-name drugs.

Teva did not say in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (link here) what the vote totals were, but the result means that Levin will get the cash payment of $1,203,125 for his work in 2012. The shareholders also approved the compensation package for 2013, under which Levin gets a base salary of $1.5 million and a bonus of up to $3 million. Eighty five percent of the bonus is based on the company hitting certain performance targets and 15 percent on an assessment of Levin's performance.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 28, 2013, 9:18 AM

Endo Health Solutions said Wednesday morning it will pay $225 million in cash for the private company Boca Pharmacal, which makes specialty generic medicine.

Endo already had a brand-name drug division and a generic component, both of which produced medicines that included opioid painkillers. Such painkillers are controlled substances, regulated in the United States by both the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Endo's generic division is called Qualitest and this deal will add to Qualitest's pipeline of products. Endo described Boca Pharmacal's focus as being on "niche areas, commercializing and developing products in categories that include: controlled substances, semisolids, and solutions."

POSTED: Tuesday, August 27, 2013, 9:44 AM
AstraZeneca offices in England. The firm also has facilities in Delaware.

Amgen's $10.4 billion purchase of Onyx Pharmaceuticals for the sake of cancer drugs prompted much of Monday's discussion in the pharmaceutical world, but AstraZeneca was also buying medicine in that category.

AstraZeneca agreed to pay $225 million up front and perhaps $275 million more for Amplimmune, a privately-held, biologics company that focuses on developing drugs in cancer immunology. The second amount depends on whether the drugs meet certain development and sales milestones.

Cancer cells can be crafty and try to avoid detection while attacking the body. Cancer immunology medications are supposed to help counter those tactics.

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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