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Biotech and Pharmaceutical News: Walgreen (NYSE:WAG) Fights to Win Back Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) Customers

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Plus, pharmas form a non-profit to expedite trials for new drugs.

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Here we present the most useful and interesting business news in biotechnology from across the Web.

Forbes
Link: Walgreen's New Battle: Winning Back Express Scripts Customers
"Walgreen (NYSE:WAG), closing the books on a 'challenging' fiscal 2012, admitted to investors today that regaining customers lost from its contract dispute with Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) is going to be a tough sled.

"This morning, Walgreen chief executive officer Gregory Wasson wouldn't disclose specifics or predict the number of customers and prescriptions that would return to the nation's largest drug store chain even though Walgreen renewed its relationship with Express Scripts effective two weeks ago.

"'We will find out more and more as we get into this,' Wasson said on a conference call this morning when pressed by Wall Street analysts and investors for more details.

"Wasson and his management team said Walgreen is using direct mail, coupons and a marketing barrage to win customers back but realizes consumers during the dispute left for other pharmacies such as CVS (NYSE:CVS)."

Motley Fool
Link: How Many Pharmas Does It Take to Accelerate Drug Development?
"Stop me if you've heard this one before: How many pharmas does it take to accelerate the development of drugs?

"Ten!

"Ha-ha! Get it? Ten.

"As they say, the funniest jokes are the ones that are true. I kid you not, there really are 10 companies that think they can band together to speed things up.

"Separated, the companies are inefficient at running clinical trials. But together, Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) , AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) , Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) , GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) , Roche (PINK:RHHBY), and Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) think they can get things done.

"I'll believe it when I see it.

"The companies have formed a non-profit called TransCelerate BioPharma, which plans to tackle inefficiencies in the clinical trials as its first task. Right now, each company has to reinvent the wheel each time they run a trial. If everything was standardized, it would be a lot easier on clinical trial investigators, the doctors actually running the trials."

Financial Times
Link: Extremes of Drug Development Dissected (Book Review)
"Pssst! Wanna sell a dodgy drug? If you are a fledgling pharmaceuticals marketeer in search of new tricks, Ben Goldacre's book offers a handy guide.

"That is not, of course, his intention. The campaigning British physician and writer, known for his vitriolic newspaper column attacks on 'Bad Science,' builds on the brand with "Bad Pharma". For readers other than the unethical pharma neophyte, it is an intense and a depressing read – both for the facts outlined but also the limited nuance.

"Behind the front cover whose design res-embles the British Nat-ional Formulary, the phys-ician's bible of prescription med-icines, but includes a skull-and-crossbones, the auth-or lists many ruses by which phar-m-a companies leave us all "ex-pos-ed to avoid-able suffering, pain and death."

Wall Street Journal
Link: Merck Settles Coppertone Sunscreen Lawsuit
"Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) agreed to pay between $3 million and $10 million to settle a long-standing class-action suit involving Coppertone sunscreen, which the drug maker inherited when it acquired rival Schering-Plough in 2009.

"As part of the settlement, which was filed Friday in a New Jersey district court, Merck also agreed to stop using the terms 'sunblock,' 'waterproof,' 'sweatproof,' 'all day' or 'all day protection' in its labeling or advertising of Coppertone sunscreen products manufactured after June for sale in the US.

"On its website, Coppertone currently uses terms such as 'water resistant' and 'stays on strong when you sweat.'

"Starting in late 2003, several lawsuits were filed against Schering-Plough, alleging the company may have exaggerated the effectiveness of its sunscreens in its advertising and labeling. Merck later bought Schering-Plough for about $41 billion."

Reuters
Link: Poor HIV Patients Improve with Care Beyond Drugs
"Patients stepping into Johns Hopkins University's HIV clinic in east Baltimore do not just see a doctor or get prescriptions for their antiretroviral drugs. Many also get help finding a place to live or bus fare to make it to their next appointment.

"Such care that goes beyond the examination table and into patients' often challenging lives has been key to helping poorer HIV patients - particularly blacks and women - live long, healthier lives, according to a 15-year study published on Thursday in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

"Researchers at the university followed 6,366 patients in the mostly black, low-income part of a city marked by abandoned buildings and plagued by an illegal drug trade that drew national attention on the gritty television series 'The Wire.'"
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