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BJ’s picnics raise breast cancer awareness

BY DSN STAFF

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — BJ’s Wholesale Club announced that it is partnering with 13 of the country’s leading cancer centers to host picnic luncheons to educate guests about breast cancer.

This is the sixth year BJ’s is hosting these "Pink Picnic" events, which will feature a doctor or specialist from a partner hospital and an inspirational speaker, who will share her experience with the disease, the company reported.

During the event, cancer survivors will be invited to share their stories. Additionally, all attendees will receive special gift bags.

"Many members of the BJ’s Wholesale Club family have battled breast cancer or had a family member go through it; so it’s an honor to hold the ‘Pink Picnic’ events to raise awareness and money that will go to the life-saving work being done at these cancer centers," said Jessica Newman, manager of community relations.

In addition to hosting the Pink Picnics this October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month, BJ’s Wholesale Club will sell "Pink Ribbon" Club merchandise. As in years past, funds will be raised through this specially marked merchandise sold at all BJ’s Wholesale Clubs and donated to 13 NCI-designated Cancer Centers.

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FDA approves Remicade for ulcerative colitis in children

BY Alaric DeArment

HORSHAM, Pa. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug made by Johnson & Johnson for treating ulcerative colitis in children.

J&J subsidiary Janssen Biotech said Friday that the FDA approved Remicade (infliximab) for moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis in children who have not responded adequately to conventional therapies.

"Ulcerative colitis can be a devastating disease, and previously there had been no approved therapeutic options for pediatric patients who had an inadequate response to conventional therapy," said Jeffrey Hyams, University of Connecticut medical professor and lead investigator of the clinical study that lead to the new approval. "The approval of infliximab represents an important treatment milestone in the care of children stricken with this inflammatory bowel disease."

According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and the Starlight Children’s Foundation, about 1.4 million Americans have irritable bowel syndrome, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, including 150,000 children younger than 17 years old.


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Rite Aid: Most improved?

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — During Rite Aid’s second-quarter 2012 earnings call last week, at least two analysts congratulated the company on its performance. It’s little wonder: As president and CEO John Standley said, the quarter saw the first increase in total sales in 13 quarters, with much of the improvement driven by the Wellness+ loyalty card program.

(THE NEWS: Rite Aid expands Wellness+ program, Wellness stores in Q2. For the full story, click here)

Some analysts nevertheless continue to see signs of trouble. Credit Suisse analyst Edward Kelly noted that despite its success, Wellness+ had a negative impact of 33 bps on gross margin and wrote that the company “continues to sacrifice profitability in order to drive top-line improvements” in a report released after the call. He also called the decision not to expand on the Rite Aid/Save-a-Lot co-branded stores — made due to the stores’ inability to generate sufficient margins, despite good sales lift — “premature.” Meanwhile, Moody’s Investors Service said in a report released in February that while initiatives designed to drive sales, such as Wellness+ “make sense,” they might not be enough to stem market share losses.

Still, February was a long time ago, and Kelly’s report noted that Wellness+ has continued to gain traction despite its negative effect on gross margin. The program has helped drive sales, with members showing significantly larger basket sizes than nonmembers. Meanwhile, as Standley noted when the company released its first quarter 2012 report in June, sales at the Wellness stores were already trending between 100 and 200 basis points higher than the rest of the chain. Since then, the concept has been expanded to several new markets, including Seattle, Baltimore and Boston.

Indeed, CFO Frank Vitrano said, the chain would “ideally” like to have all the stores in the chain remodeled in five years. While conceding that such a goal likely would not be realistic, Vitrano said it was conceivable that 78% to 80% of the chain could be remodeled “over the next couple of years” with the right increases in capital expenditure investment.

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