Holiday pharma news round-up

FiercePharma took a little break over the holidays. The newsletter has been on hiatus since Christmas Eve, but we checked in daily with some news on the website. And because we know many of you took a holiday vacation as well, here's a roundup of what you may have missed.

  • In a move that outlines the growing influence of employers and insurers on drug-buying, heavy equipment maker Caterpillar has instituted a new health plan that will steer workers toward Wal-Mart and Walgreens stores as a ploy to reduce costs.

  • While much of Big Pharma races toward China, Ranbaxy Laboratories is taking one step out of that market. The Indian company has sold its stake in a Chinese joint venture, saying it will continue to market drugs in China--albeit drugs made outside the country.

  • Drugmakers have been diversifying into generics, emerging markets, consumer healthcare. But hedging bets on prescription meds isn't without its risks--OTC drugs run into manufacturing problems, too, as witnessed by Johnson & Johnson's recent Tylenol troubles.

  • As analysts waited for the Novartis-Nestle deal to go down, they talked about the Swiss drugmakers' plans for financing that purchase via a mix of bonds and loans.

  • To get around the obvious problem with safety trials in pregnant women--who'd volunteer?-- the FDA is funding a retrospective analysis of data gathered on about 1 million births between 2001 and 2007, the agency says.

- get the Caterpillar news
- see the Ranbaxy story
- read the article on J&J
- check out the Novartis financing piece
- go to the FDA story