Angry shareholders of WellPoint Inc. are searching out and suggesting replacements for WellPoint CEO Angela Braly, according to analysts interviewed by IBJ and Bloomberg News. Sheryl Skolnick, a health care analyst at CRT Capital Group in Connecticut, and Jason Gurda, a Leerink Swann & Co. analyst in New York, said investors have suggested James G. Carlson, the chief of Amerigroup Corp., as Braly’s replacement. Gurda also said investors have suggested David B. Snow Jr., the former chief of Medco Health Solutions Inc., as a candidate. Indianapolis-based WellPoint is buying Amerigroup, a rival insurer, for $4.9 billion. Medco was recently acquired for $29.1 billion in April by Express Scripts Holding Co., a fellow drug-benefits manager. While neither man has publicly expressed interest in the job, and WellPoint’s board has expressed confidence in Braly, that hasn’t stopped the speculation, Gurda said. Other names raised by investors include Gail Boudreaux, head of the health plan division at UnitedHealth Group Inc., the biggest U.S. medical insurer, and Kenneth Goulet, WellPoint’s executive vice president, said Thomas Carroll, a Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst in Baltimore.
Eli Lilly and Co. won a U.S. appeals court ruling that upholds the validity of a patent for the lung-cancer drug Alimta and blocks generic competition through 2017. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Aug. 24 rejected arguments by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. that the patent was invalid. It affirmed a lower court ruling. The decision was posted on the court’s website. Alimta, whose chemical name is pemetrexed, generated $2.5 billion in sales last year for Indianapolis-based Lilly, making it the company’s third-biggest-selling drug. Alimta is designed to hamper cancer cells’ ability to use folic acid to grow after an initial treatment with other drugs. Israel-based Teva had argued that Lilly had patented a compound that wasn’t much different from what was covered by two earlier patents. The three-judge panel said the lower court was correct to rule that the 2017 patent is distinct from the earlier inventions.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has identified a southern Indiana farm that produced cantaloupes linked to a deadly salmonella outbreak and says the operation has recalled its melons, according to the Associated Press. Chamberlain Farms of Owensville could be one source of contaminated fruit in the multistate outbreak that has infected 178 people, hospitalized 62 and killed two, the FDA said in an Aug. 22 statement. Attorney John Broadhead said Chamberlain Farms voluntarily withdrew its cantaloupes last week and that all its retail and wholesale purchasers complied with the recall. The farm about 20 miles north of Evansville sold cantaloupes to grocery stores in four southwestern Indiana counties and one in southeastern Illinois, Broadhead said in a prepared statement. The fruit was also sold to wholesale purchasers in St. Louis; Owensboro, Ky.; Peru, Ill.; and Durant, Iowa. Neither the FDA nor the farm gave any information about what might have caused the contamination.