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BioMarin’s Pompe disease treatment gets orphan-drug designation

BY Allison Cerra

NOVATO, Calif. BioMarin Pharmaceutical on Monday announced its investigational treatment for a lysosomal storage disorder has received orphan-drug designation from the Food and Drug Administration.

The investigational drug BMN-701, designed to treat Pompe disease, has been submitted to the FDA for regulatory approval. Pompe disease is a progressive degenerative disease of the heart muscle, diaphragm and skeletal muscle.

“This [designation] emphasizes our mission of developing innovative, products for orphan diseases with an unmet medical need. We believe BMN-701 has the potential to possibly deliver more enzyme to lysosomes compared to traditional mannose-6-phosphate targeted approaches using the recently acquired GILT technology,” said Jean-Jacques Bienaime, BioMarin CEO.

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Report: Consumers focus on fewer stores, lower prices

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Shoppers are cutting back on the number of stores they are visiting, concentrating visits on stores known for lower prices and generally visiting stores less frequently and spending less per trip, according to a report SymphonyIRI Group released Thursday titled “The New Path to Purchase: An Escalation of Channel & Consumption Migration.”

“Shoppers are not enjoying the same financial success as corporations this spring and summer, and their continued search for lower-cost retail channels reflects this,” stated John McIndoe, SVP marketing at SymphonyIRI. “In addition to potential pressure on retailer revenues and margins, these trends point to managers having fewer chances to ‘get it right’ with shoppers. If a shopper visits a store and is unhappy with the experience, she will quickly go elsewhere.”

Grocery remained the dominant channel, with 98.4% penetration over the 52 weeks ended June 27. Other leading channels included drug (77% penetration), mass merchandise (71.6%) and supercenters (69.5%).

Supercenters enjoyed the largest penetration increase of 190 basis points, followed by dollar stores with a 50 basis point increase. Mass merchandise penetration fell 230 basis points, while convenience store penetration declined 1.9 points and drug dropped 50 basis points.

The number of shoppers visiting fewer than five stores has increased every quarter since second quarter 2009. In contrast, those shopping at five to nine stores in the same time frame has dropped every quarter but one. The number of people shopping at 10 or more stores has remained approximately the same.

Overall, trip frequency began to decline consistently starting in fourth quarter 2009; in second quarter 2010, it declined nearly 2% versus the same period the prior year, driven by declines in the convenience store and mass merchandise channels, which experienced slides of 9% and 7%, respectively. Across most other channels, average purchase occasions remained fairly steady.

Dollars per purchase occasion, which were growing at approximately 5% in third quarter 2008 versus the same period the prior year, fell flat in third quarter 2009 and now are declining by more than 1%. While grocery, supercenter and club channels have seen average basket size slide over the past year, convenience, dollar and drug stores enjoyed significant increases of 8%, 3.8% and 1.7%, respectively.

A majority of trip missions have seen total trips to retailers decline steadily for nearly all categories since second quarter 2009. The exception is quick trips, or small “need-it-now” shopping excursions, which remained constant for the second half of 2009 and then jumped dramatically in second quarter 2010. Similarly, basket size across trip missions has declined most quarters since second quarter 2009. Once again, quick trips were the exception, consistently demonstrating increased basket size each quarter, beginning in third quarter 2009.

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Food store offerings make sense

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT You only have to look as far as a recent SymphonyIRI Group study to realize why a general gravitation toward expansion of food store offerings makes sense. Because it never matters much what the housing market is doing, how high unemployment is or how dire the economy is when you consider one simple common denominator: People still need to eat.

(THE NEWS: Target rolls out redesign, expanded food in stores in Tampa and Denver markets. For the full story, click here)

According to that SymphonyIRI Group study, released last Thursday, the food channel remained the predominant channel in terms of overall trips, enjoying a 98.4% household penetration over the 52 weeks ended June 27. Drug lagged behind that with only a 77% penetration; and mass, which is the sandbox in which Target plays, had only 71.6% penetration. And consumers today are shopping across fewer retailers, which suggests that a retailer positioned against both a value proposition and a convenience factor — where consumers only need to make that one trip to satisfy most of their shopping needs — may capture more than its fair share of future trips.

It’s not just the mass merchant Target that recently has identified expanded food offerings as a potential sales driver. Walgreens last week announced a move to bring healthier food choices to more inner-city residents with the introduction of an expanded food selection at its 67th St. and Stony Island location in Chicago. That store is 1-of-10 redesigned “oases” that serve urban centers identified as “food deserts,” or in other words, city neighborhoods that just don’t have a lot of healthy food choices within walking distance.

Also last week, Drug Store News reported CVS/pharmacy’s expansion of its Urban Cluster store concept, a store design that features a more prominent consumables department tailored to the consumer looking for a quick in-and-out shopping solution. The company expected to have 300 of its 7,100-plus stores converted to the concept by the end of the year, and expected to have a total of 1,300 to 1,400 stores reset to the concept over the next few years.

Both Walgreens and CVS/pharmacy are better positioned to capitalize on another learning out of that recent SymphonyIRI Group study: an increase in “quick-trip” shopping excursions. Total trips across all retailers have declined steadily since second quarter 2009, SymphonyIRI reported, with the exception of those “need-it-now” trips, which have remained steady since then and actually jumped dramatically in second quarter 2010. Similarly, basket size has declined most quarters since second quarter 2009, again, with the exception of those quick trips, which consistently have demonstrated increased basket size each quarter beginning third quarter 2009.

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