Business News, In Brief
Cephalon's Buchi steps in for Baldino: Cephalon CEO Frank Baldino is taking a temporary medical leave of absence, and the company's long-time financial head Kevin Buchi will take over his responsibilities in the meantime, the firm announced Aug. 25. Buchi, having worked with Baldino for decades, is well-groomed to step in. He joined Cephalon in 1991 as controller and was appointed CFO in 1996. He was promoted to Chief Operating Officer earlier this year. Baldino is due to return to the company before the end of the year. If his absence is indeed only a few months long, the disruption should not have a material impact on the company, given Cephalon's experienced leadership team. A longer-term absence, however, could raise some investor alarms, because Baldino, who founded Cephalon in 1987, is the face of the company and has been steering the ship from the get-go
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European regulators recommend approval of yet another combination antihypertensive from Novartis as the Swiss company attempts to soften the loss of patent protection on its blockbuster Diovan.
Novartis runs counter to sales call trends for first half of 2010: With a strong emphasis on detailing newly launched hypertension drug Valturna (aliskiren/valsartan), Novartis saw its volume of sales calls to doctors, nurses and physician assistants increase 7 percent during the first half of 2010, in contrast to industry trends. In a newly issued report, health care market analytics firm SDI announced overall sales calls by pharma companies to clinicians decreased 1 percent during the first six months of the year, compared to the second half of 2009. Based on SDI's findings, Merck sales calls declined 16 percent and GlaxoSmithKline's 7 percent. The industry's biggest company, Pfizer, posted a 2 percent decrease in sales calls during the half-year. At Novartis, a full 19 percent of sales calls were used to discuss Valturna, a combination drug approved by FDA last September that comprises the active ingredients in Diovan and Tekturna (1Pharmaceutical Approvals Monthly, October 2009). With pharmaceutical sales forces being reduced in recent years, the drop in sales calls may be slowing, SDI Associate Director of Syndicated Analytics Jason Fox said, but in-person calls remain the most popular method of informing clinicians of new drugs, second only to product sampling
The FDA approval of Shire's Vpriv (velaglucerase) means that Genzyme's Cerezyme (imiglucerase) finally has competition in the Gaucher disease space. But market analysts are strongly divided on whether velaglucerase or a pending Pfizer/Protalix drug will be better positioned to make a dent in Cerezyme's market share