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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

Novartis sued by drug reps
US sales reps of Novartis are suing the firm for $225m for unpaid overtime. Law firm Sanford Wittels & Heisler said former sales rep, Simona Lopes, had filed the suit for herself and other employees of the company across the country. The class action lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court in New York, alleges Novartis violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York State's overtime laws by failing to pay Lopes for her overtime when she worked more than 40 hours a week. It also claims Novartis' New York employees involved in product sales were misclassified by the company as exempt from federal and state overtime requirements.

Actavis closes in on Pliva deal
Icelandic generics firm Actavis is closing in on its proposed $16.4bn purchase of Croatian rival Pliva. Actavis chief executive, Robert Wessman, has visited the Zagreb stock exchange to discuss the possibility of listing Actavis in Croatia on completion of the acquisition. He also attended a press conference to promote the merger. ìI hope that my visit demonstrates just how serious we are about bringing Actavis and Pliva together,î he said. ìOur industry continues to consolidate at a rapid rate and I believe that the combination of these two companies will create a business with a dominant position in the market and excellent long term growth prospects.î

ProStrakan buys Tabphyn rights
Speciality pharma group ProStrakan has acquired the rights to Tabphyn, a treatment for enlarged prostate, from Genus Pharmaceuticals. Under the terms of the ten-year agreement, ProStrakan will gain exclusive rights to market and distribute the drug in the UK. The company said that Astella's withdrawal of market leader Flomax last year (to accommodate a new product, Flomaxtra XL, had left it with an opportunity to market Tabphyn, a branded generic version of Flomax, at a lower cost. ìThere is a strong demand from doctors and primary care trusts in the UK for Tamsulosin and the withdrawal of Flomax has created a gap in the market,î said ProStrakan chief executive, Wilson Totten.

Clark admits Merck was slow to react
Merck & Co chief executive, Richard Clark, has admitted that the US firm failed to read the warning signs that it needed to change quicker and become more disciplined. Speaking to the Financial Times, Clark said that in the areas around business intensity and accountability, the company hadn't accelerated as much as it should have over the last few years. ìThere were enough signals there to really tell us that we needed to make these changes,î he said. Clark also ruled out a possible Merck approach to buy Schering-Plough, adding that his company was gaining ground licensing biotechnology drugs.

30th September 2008

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