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Big Quark signs with NSS, launches BeautySleep

BY Michael Johnsen

SAINT LOUIS — Big Quark has signed National Sales Solutions to handle all domestic sales, the company announced Thursday.

Big Quark will be launching its BeautySleep supplement into the mass market. BeautySleep is a 2-oz. dietary supplement that combines anti-aging compounds and antioxidants with sleep enhancers.

“With our early success with BeautySleep, we knew we needed help taking BeautySleep to the next level, and National Sales Solutions has proven highly effective,” stated Clark Wolfsberger,president of Big Quark. “They have been instrumental in getting BeautySleep in front of major chain-store buyers at the recent [National Association of Chain Drug Stores] convention in Boston and continuing the momentum with purchase orders.”

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MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse report reveals increase in online retail sales

BY Allison Cerra

PURCHASE, N.Y. — MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse revealed that online retail sales rose 14% over the year-ago period, marking the 24th straight month of year-over-year growth, as well as the ninth consecutive month of double-digit growth, with improvement in every subcategory except for electronics.

The macroeconomic report, which tracks national retail and services sales, noted that 14% year-over-year growth for the overall online retail category, however, was the smallest increase for e-commerce since February 2011, and is an expected seasonal slowing. Overall, various sectors in retail were sluggish for the month.

“Sector weaknesses are the result of a variety of drivers,” MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse VP research and analysis Michael McNamara said.

McNamara added that consumers paid about $1 more per gallon of gasoline in July 2011 that the year-ago period, which potentially could have put a damper on sales. “At about 10.9 billion gallons pumped this July, that price increase is redirecting almost $11 billion per month towards gasoline spending and away from other areas of consumer spending, or savings,” he said.

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Merck KGaA completes enrollment in late-stage trial for Parkinson’s disease drug

BY Alaric DeArment

DARMSTADT, Germany — Merck KGaA has finished enrolling patients in a late-stage clinical study of a drug for Parkinson’s disease, the German drug maker said.

Merck KGaA, which is a separate company from U.S.-based Merck & Co. and operates in the United States under the name EMD, said 549 patients with mid- to late-stage Parkinson’s had enrolled in the phase-3 "SETTLE" study of safinamide. The study is designed to evaluate the drug’s safety and efficacy as an add-on therapy to levodopa, a common treatment for Parkinson’s.

The study is part of a broader program for the drug and will last for six months.

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