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Remember when physicians were highly suspicious of retail clinics in drugstores' stealing business from them? Well, now that docs are employed by hospitals, the clinics are being embraced. Indiana University Health announced last week that its physicians will serve as medical directors for 19 MinuteClinic locations, including 17 in the Indianapolis area, one in Bloomington and one in West Lafayette. The clinics are in CVS drugstores, as the company is a subsidiary of Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark Corp. Signs at the clinics will indicate the affiliation with IU Health. The organizations are linking their electronic medical record systems so that, with patient permission, records could be transferred easily from MinuteClinic to an IU Health physician, especially for patients needing more care than MinuteClinic can provide. However, MinuteClinic nurse practitioners will also send patient records to non-IU Health physicians if the patient wishes. The IU Health deal is the 11th hospital partnership signed by MinuteClinic across the country.

Eli Lilly and Co. could get an earlier-than-expected ruling from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on its once-weekly version of Byetta. The FDA said it would render a decision on the new diabetes drug, called Bydureon, by Jan. 28, Lilly announced last week along with its partners, California-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Massachusetts-based Alkermes Inc. Bydureon would be a once-weekly injection of exenatide, the same compound in Byetta, which currently requires twice-daily injections. Byetta has proved effective at controlling blood sugar and even helping some patients lose weight. But concerns about it include causing pancreas problems and then competition from a similar once-daily drug called Victoza, launched by Denmark-based Novo Nordisk A/S. Lilly expected to receive approval for Bydureon in 2010, but the FDA required another study to test its effects on patients’ heart rhythms. When the new requirement was announced in October, Lilly said it expected approval of Bydureon to be delayed until mid-2012. Worldwide Byetta sales last year totaled $710 million.

A $10 million research endowment at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute has attracted seven new researchers to the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Ophthalmology Department. The department will move this month to a new building at 1160 W. Michigan St. The Glicks pledged a total of $30 million to the medical school—including $20 million that went toward the 80,000-square-foot building, which will house clinical research space, a full-service optical shop and the ophthalmology outpatient clinic. The clinic, which is moving from University Hospital, will double in size. The local philanthropists hoped their gift would vault IU into the top 10 for research and prevention of eye disease.

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