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Candidates’ advisers affirm support for generic drugs

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON —For the hard-pressed generic drug industry, the 2008 presidential election looks like a win-win, no matter which candidate makes it to the White House.

Senior campaign advisers for both Barack Obama and John McCain affirmed their strong support for me-too medicines and biogenerics at the 2008 Annual Policy Conference of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association Sept. 18.

Dora Hughes, health policy adviser to Obama, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, senior policy adviser to McCain, told generic industry leaders their candidates both were in favor of increasing access to generics as a tool for reducing healthcare costs in a struggling economy. They also agreed on the need to create an FDA approval pathway for biogenerics, and voiced support for a relatively short period of exclusivity for the original bio-engineered drugs so that generic copies could come to market as quickly as possible to cut down on the high costs of biologics.

Their position puts both campaigns at odds with the branded pharmaceutical and biologic pharmaceutical industries, both of which support a 14-year period of market exclusivity for patented bio-engineered drugs. Addressing conference participants, Hughes described that 14-year window as excessive, and Holtz-Eakin affirmed that McCain’s instincts are to move to as short a period as possible.

Their remarks buoyed generic industry leaders. “Our two presidential candidates understand the true value that generic medicines play in our nation’s healthcare system,” GPhA president and chief executive officer Kathleen Jaeger told industry representatives. “As American families increasingly struggle with rising healthcare costs, both parties are talking about increasing access to affordable generic and biogeneric medicines. And that’s music to not only our ears, but to countless patients across the country.”

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Wegmans begins trial of self-checkout lanes in New York store

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Wegmans is testing four self-checkout lanes for the first time near company headquarters at its Penfield, N.Y. store based on consumer demand, according to published reports.

We were never in a rush to introduce self-checkout,” Jo Natale, Wegmans spokeswoman, told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. “We had never seen one we liked or offered features for customer convenience.”

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Wegmans stores close all photography centers

BY Jenna Duncan

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Supermarket chain Wegmans is closing down its photo operations, reports this week said. After more 20 years serving its communities with photo services, the company will no longer offer full-service in-store photo development.

The closures affect 12 stores in Wegmans’ Rochester market. This will affect 18 full-time employees and 52 people who work in photo part-time in Rochester, the company said, as well as 63 full-time photo employees and 173 part-timers companywide. Wegmans has said it will try to make adjustments to keep some of those employees in the company.

So far in the past year, Wegmans has closed 9 of its photo departments. The company has said that the closures are largely due to the growing popularity and accessibility of digital photography.

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