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Pfizer to absorb Mylan, creating generic giant

A global pharmaceutical giant is poised for a growth spurt. A huge growth spurt.

Mylan NV, a $20 billion company, is merging with Upjohn, a division of Pfizer Inc., in an all-stock deal announced Monday morning. The merger will result in a new company, and is expected to take effect in or around mid-2020.

The boards of Mylan and Pfizer have unanimously approved the transaction, which also has to get a thumbs-up from Mylan shareholders. Pfizer shareholders will own 57% of the new company, which has yet to be named. Mylan shareholders will own 43%.

That new entity will offer a diverse portfolio of pharmaceuticals. Mylan is known for EpiPen and medications for the central nervous system, anesthesia, infectious disease and cardiovascular. Upjohn is Pfizer’s off-patent and generic business, whose medicines include Lipitor, Viagra and Celebrex.

Mylan has longtime ties to Washington County, operating from its global center in Southpointe. Its headquarters are in the Netherlands. Pfizer is based in New York City.

Headquarters for the new company has not been determined, but a news release from Mylan said the firm will have global centers in Pittsburgh, Shanghai and Hyderabad, India.

Robert J. Coury, Mylan’s current chairman, will be executive chairman of the new firm. Upjohn Group President Michael Goettler will be the chief executive officer and Rajiv Malik, Mylan’s president, will assume that same position. Ken Parks, Mylan’s chief financial officer “has agreed to depart the company at closing,” Mylan said in a news release.

Missing from that list is Heather Bresch, Mylan’s CEO since 2012. Bresch, who just turned 50, will retire when the deal closes.

She was paid $13,332,368 in total compensation in 2018, according to a regional list of “highest-paid public company executives” compiled by the Pittsburgh Business Times this spring. That was second to the $15.676 million paid to William Demchak, chairman, president and CEO of PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

Bresch, daughter of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, has worked for Mylan for 27 years. She said in a news release from Mylan: “... as the company prepares to set out on this exciting new journey under the next era of leadership, I too have decided to pursue a new chapter – one that will continue to be focused on serving people, patients and public health.”

Coury said in a statement: “Heather has left a significant positive mark to the benefit of our company, patients and shareholders in so many ways. ... Her leadership helped to further position Mylan for this important milestone.”

The merging companies expect the new one to have annual revenue of $19 billion to $20 billion.

No rain on Rain Day, but plenty of fun

As big and popular as the Rain Day festival has become, with as many vendors and visitors as ever, something was missing Monday – the rain.

As of 8 p.m. Monday, Waynesburg’s favorite festival celebrating the rain that traditionally falls July 29 was hot, sunny and dry this year. That means, of course, that Waynesburg Mayor Brian Tanner lost his hat bet with KDKA sports anchor Bob Pompeani.

“They’ll run me out of town if I keep losing like this,” Tanner said.

It’s his second year as mayor and his second year of no rain on Rain Day. He said the tradition of Rain Day started decades ago, when a Waynesburg farmer walked into a drug store and mentioned that it always seems to rain on his birthday, July 29.

“And it does rain the majority of the time. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow,” Tanner said Monday.

Rain or shine, this year’s festival had more vendors than last year, and people traveled from all over to participate in the tradition. Rain Day’s mascot, Wayne Drop, danced to live music as visitors cooled off at the stands of vendors selling flavored ice and ice cream cones. Several people cooled down in the dunk tank on High Street and under a misting station near the borough office.

The festival kicked off at 10 a.m. with the annual umbrella decorating contest. Out of the 13 contestants, Malanna Hertig won with a peacock-themed umbrella. Jacob Kehoe won second place with a thunderstorm theme, and Sophia Faddis won third place with a Harry Potter-theme umbrella.

U.S. Congressman Conor Lamb, of the 17th District, came down to participate in Rain Day and to be one of the judges for the annual umbrella decorating contest. He said that he had spent last year’s festival in Waynesburg, when he was a representative for this area. He enjoyed it so much he returned this year.

“It’s a great tradition and an incredible story,” Lamb said.

He mentioned the Rain Day Boys, the 17 Greene County men who died in World War I on July 29, 1918. He said the Rain Day festival is a way for the community to remember and honor “those men who gave their lives.”

“It’s a testament to the community,” he said.

Another great Rain Day tradition is the Miss Rain Day Scholarship Pageant, which happened Sunday evening. Katie Swauger, 16, of Carmichaels, won and was able to wear the crown and sash during the festival Monday.

“I’m really excited to start this journey,” she said Monday. “It’s not really rainy, but I’m so glad it’s a nice day.”

Swauger competed for the title against Remmey Lohr, 16, of Carmichaels, and Paytyn Neighbors, 15, of Greensboro. Swauger said the 2018 Miss Rain Day, Loren Schroyer, is one of her best friends from dance class. Schroyer encouraged Swauger to compete this year, she said.

“When she won, I said that I wanted to do this,” Swauger said. “I’ve always wanted this title. I still can’t believe it’s real.”

Tanner said the umbrella sky set up outside the county courthouse attracted several people this year, as well as a headlining band from Nashville, the Eskimo Brothers. The Umbrellas Over Rain Day project, with multi-colored umbrellas hanging 18 feet high, was set up July 20 and will be taken down Tuesday. The display was done by Hughie’s Event Production Services in Pittsburgh.

Courtesy of Kevin Willis 

Courtesy of Kevin Willis

Carmichaels Envirothon team members, from left, Joey Kurincak, Christina Adams, Jacob Hair, Stephen Zacoi and Ryan Swartz are pictured at Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park in July 2018 during a weeklong trip to Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho, and surrounding areas for the NCF-Envirothon following their first Pennsylvania State Envirothon championship.

Courtesy of Kevin Willis 

Courtesy of Kevin Willis

Pictured are, from left, Michael Walsh, Pennsylvania DCNR Deputy Secretary; Megan Patton, coach; team members: Ryan Swartz, Joey Kurincak, Jacob Hair, Christina Adams, Stephen Zacoi; Kevin Willis, coach; Patrick McDonnell, Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection Secretary; Kelly Stagen, Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts; and Russell Redding, Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture Secretary.

Fundraiser to follow National Ewing Sarcoma Awareness Month; legislators seek National Health Institutes investigation

The wristbands inscribed “We Got This” that Mitch Barton’s family and friends wear are yellow.

And yellow will be on the shirts of the participants in a wiffle ball tournament fundraiser slated for Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Falconi Fields in Canonsburg.

It’s the color for sarcoma awareness, and July is National Sarcoma Awareness Month.

Sarcoma Awareness Month aims to highlight the challenges that sarcoma patients face and the need for more sarcoma research and funding.

Jake Davey, who is commissioner of the Wiff is Life League (WIFL) wiffle ball league, which organized the fundraiser, said many of the players have known Barton since they were kids.

Many league members also were friends with Luke Blanock, a graduate of Canon-McMillan High School who died in 2016 after a battle with Ewing’s sarcoma.

Both Barton and Blanock played baseball for Canon-McMillan High School.

“We just wanted to raise awareness about it and raise money,” said Davey. “It’s horrible, what he’s going through, and we wanted to do something to help out. We were friends with Luke, as well. Since I run a wiffle ball league in the area, we had the platform and we thought we’d put it to good use.”

The tournament currently has 21 youth and adult teams, composed of three or four players per team.

All proceeds will go to Barton and his family.

“I think it’s wonderful that his old friends want to come out and support Mitch,” said Christine Barton, Mitch’s mother. “The whole Canon-Mac community has supported and rallied around Mitch and our family. He is so grateful and we are so grateful.”

Sarcoma Foundation of America calls sarcoma – cancer of the soft tissue and bone that affects more than 50,000 people in the United States – the “forgotten cancer.”

But sarcoma, specifically Ewing’s sarcoma, is a cancer that is front and center in Southwestern Pennsylvania, where it has affected the lives of several families.

Since 2008, six cases of Ewing’s sarcoma have been diagnosed within Canon-McMillan School District.

Each year, only 200 to 250 cases are reported.

The cases alarmed the residents in southwestern Pennsylvania, who are concerned the Ewing’s sarcoma cases could be linked to any number of environmental causes.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health conducted an investigation but concluded in April that no cancer cluster exists there.

State reps. Tim O’Neal and Jason Ortitay on Friday announced they are introducing a resolution urging Congress to direct the National Institutes of Health to further study the causes of Ewing Sarcoma. We believe this is vital for protecting and improving the health of all Pennsylvanians.

In a news release, the legislators wrote, “While the study indicated there were not enough cases to meet the definition of a cancer cluster, the study did indicate that the exact cause of Ewing sarcoma remains largely unknown.”

O’Neal said in April he would advocate for more funding for Ewing’s sarcoma research.

“I was so happy to hear they are pursuing this,” said Barton. “Hopefully (Congress) will decide that the health agency has to start performing some type of testing.”