Business briefs: Akorn, Bayer, Lonza, plus curbing CNS drug use

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Generic drug maker Akorn's $640-million purchase of Hi-Tech Pharmacal is adding girth to its pipeline and manufacturing abilities. The company announced the purchase Tuesday and said in a statement it expects the combined company to have revenues of over $500 million. The deal brings together two firms with a foundation in eye care. In addition to branded prescription and OTC products, Hi-Tech makes oral liquids, topical creams and ointments, and brings 18 filed ANDAs to Akron's 57. Leerink Swann analyst Jason Gerberry said in a research note that, based on a first-blush assessment, the deal looks favorable, “given accretion potential, potential pipeline upside and added ophthalmic and liquid manufacturing capabilities.” Akorn pegs the value of Hi-Tech's ANDAs as around $2.6 billion.

Government efforts to force reduced antipsychotic-drug use among nursing home residents has had an effect, but not to the extent that was hoped, reports the Wall Street Journal, which says the 9% drop in use between the last quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2013 fell short of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service's 15% goal by December 2012. The drug category, which includes brands like Johnson & Johnson's Risperdal, Otsuka's Abilify and AstraZeneca's Seroquel, has been one the government has been concerned about for some time. WSJ, for example, notes that a 2011 HHS Inspector General report found that 88% of the time the drugs were prescribed for patients with dementia, a situation the Inspector General said was "potentially most alarming.” MedPage Today reported in February that a nationwide survey found 1 in 5 nursing home residents are given antipsychotics, typically for off-label uses.

FDA has granted priority review status to Bayer/Onyx Pharmaceuticals cancer drug Nexavar in its bid for approval to treat thyroid cancer. The drug is already approved for liver and kidney cancer. Phase III data provided the basis for the FDA's decision to speed up the review process, which trims review time from 10 months to six.

Lonza Pharmaceuticals is slashing two-thirds of its Hopkinton, MA, staff as part of its previously announced restructuring, reports the Boston Globe. The stepped closure will include 100 layoffs in September and another 100 by the end of the year. The Globe reports the cuts are contained, and will not affect the company's bigger business based in Portsmouth, NH, where it maintains 870 employees. FiercePharma notes that the plant has failed to meet FDA requirements since “at least 2011, when it received an FDA warning letter.”
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