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Return to PJ Online Home Page The Salvadore Vol 266 No 7138 p309
March 10, 2001


• Website for buying OTC special offers in trials
• Inhale buys Bradford Particle Design
• Dutch chain poised to buy Superdrug
• Novartis opens respiratory research centre

News in brief

Website for buying OTC special offers in trials

Starpharms.com, a website which will allow independent community pharmacies to access a range of manufacturers' special offers on non-prescription medicines, is about to enter trials. If successful, the site could be launched by the end of the month.

Mr Chris Wagstaff (marketing director, Starpharms) told The Journal that the (www.starpharms.com) would allow manufacturers to include information, prices and special offers on their products. Once registered with Starpharms.com, community pharmacists could look through the offers and place orders directly. These orders would be transferred to wholesalers for delivery in the normal way.

The website allows manufacturers to update their information at any time. Pharmacists would be able to keep records of the orders they had placed, make regular orders using previously saved data and track orders through the system. A pilot trial in 35 pharmacies was about to start, Mr Wagstaff said. If successful, the site would be launched at the end of March or the beginning of April. Pharmacists would be able to get access to the site through IMS Health's Intrapharm service or through a dedicated internet device.

Asked how the new service would avoid the fate of many other business-to-business e-commerce sites, Mr Wagstaff said that the company had been working closely with manufacturers. A number of major manufacturers were expected to join the system. The company had been working to ensure that their information was presented in a format which was easy to use and quick to download.

Money for the venture had been raised from a number of directors, Mr Wagstaff said, including the company's chairman, Mr Kirit Patel.

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Inhale buys Bradford Particle Design

Inhale Therapeutic Systems Inc, an American drug delivery company, has acquired Bradford Particle Design (BPD) Plc, a company established by the school of pharmacy at Bradford university, for $200m (£138m).

BPD uses supercritical fluid technology to produce respirable particles of peptides or proteins and nanoparticles of poorly water-soluble drugs. Work has also been undertaken in separating polymorphs of compounds. The company opened a £1m pharmaceutical manufacturing plant on an industrial park near the university last year (PJ, June 17, 2000, p901). Inhale Therapeutic Systems has been developing systems to deliver drugs deep into the lungs for treating systemic and respiratory diseases. An inhalable formulation of insulin it has developed, for example, is currently in phase III trials with Pfizer (PJ, February 10, p179).

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Dutch chain poised to buy Superdrug

Dutch pharmacy group Kruidvat is on the verge of buying the pharmacy, health and beauty chain Superdrug for £330m, according to media reports.

Sunday Business reported on March 4 that Kruidvat had been in talks with Superdrug's parent company, Kingfisher Plc, having seen off rival offers from the Canadian chain Shoppers Drug Mart and the German group Schlecker.

Superdrug has around 200 pharmacies in its 700- chain of health and beauty stores. It has recently started placing pharmacies within Woolworths branches (PJ, April 15, 2000, p575).

Kingfisher said on March 1 that the sale of Superdrug was likely and that it had received a number of approaches for the business. The news came as Kingfisher appointed Mr Gerald Corbett, the former chief executive of Railtrack Plc, as chairman of its general merchandise group, which includes Woolworths and Superdrug. Mr Corbett has a brief to separate the general merchandise businesses from Kingfisher's DIY and electrical retailing operations.

In a statement Kingfisher said: ?The decision on the appropriate method of separation, which now seems likely to include the sale of Superdrug, will be made in order to achieve the best value for shareholders.

?The sale of Superdrug would not impact the prospects of a successful stock market demerger — which is on course for the second quarter of this year — of the Woolworths and entertainment businesses. The supply arrangements with Superdrug will be replicated.?

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Novartis opens respiratory research centre

Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd officially opened its £40m respiratory research centre at Horsham, West Sussex, on February 27. The centre will be the base for 180 research scientists working on new medicines for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Novartis will be allocating £20m a year towards this research.

The official opening was performed by Mr John Hutton (Minister of State for Social Care).

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News in brief

Cox rebrands as Alpharma Cox

Pharmaceuticals Ltd has been rebranded as Alpharma Ltd. The move follows the acquisition of Cox by the American generics company Alpharma Inc in 1998. Rebranded packaging will be introduced next year.

Numark aids on website

Disability living aids and incontinence products are now available on Numark Ltd's consumer (www.numarkpharmacists.com). Products will be delivered through local Numark pharmacies.

Moss caught on camera

Moss Pharmacy's branch at Sefton Road, Litherland, Liverpool, was recently used as a location for filming part of a forthcoming film, 51st State, which is to be released in the summer.

Weldrick gets website approval

Doncaster based pharmacy chain H. I. Weldrick Ltd has had its (www.weldricks.co.uk) accredited by the Which Web Trader approval scheme. In order to do so, the company had to show that the site complied with the Data Protection Act 1998, that it clearly displayed the company's terms and conditions of business and that there were effective systems for complaints and maintaining customers' privacy.

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©The Salvadore

Citation: The Salvadore URI: 20004116

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