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The Dannon Company announces new incoming CEO

BY Allison Cerra

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. The Dannon Company today Thursday that effective April 1, Gustavo Valle will become president and CEO, replacing Juan Carlos Dalto.

Valle is currently the CEO of Danone Brazil and will relocate to the White Plains area. Valle started his career within Danone in Argentina in 1996 as VP finance, where he evolved to become CEO of Danone Waters in Argentina in 2002. In 2004, he became CEO of Danone Brazil.

As president, CEO of The Dannon Company, Valle will report to Dirk Van de Put, EVP, Danone Americas Region.

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Sears Optical marks Eye Health Month

BY Jim Frederick

MASON, Ohio Sears Optical kicked off its annual “Family Eye Health Month,” a national campaign to promote optical health and encourage consumers to schedule their next eye exams with their eye care professionals on Tuesday.

The event, which runs through March, also includes special promotions and discounted eyewear.

The campaign embraces the nearly 800 Sears Optical centers located in Sears stores nationwide, and marks the company’s fiftieth year in the optical business. While Sears Optical does not provide exams, in most states there is an independent doctor of optometry located next door who does.

According to recent studies from the Vision Council of America, more than 11 million Americans are living with an uncorrected vision problem. Further, one in four children has a vision problem that goes undetected, such as common eye diseases.

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New bill would exempt pharmacists from accreditation rules for DME

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In a bipartisan move welcomed by retail pharmacy advocates, U.S. Senators John Tester, D-Mont., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., have introduced legislation that would eliminate burdensome restrictions on the sale of durable medical equipment by pharmacies.

The two lawmakers are co-sponsors of S. 511, the Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act of 2009. The bill adds pharmacists to a list of 17 medical professionals that are exempted from new accreditation requirements for Medicare Part B durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies.

The National Community Pharmacists Association welcomed the legislation. “Pharmacists keep patients healthy, not only by dispensing much needed medication, but by providing the medical supplies necessary for their patients health. Senators John Tester and Sam Brownback are to be commended for their leadership in introducing S. 511,” said NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts and president Holly Henry in a joint statement March 4. “This much needed bill demonstrates that these senators are committed to our nations patients and maintaining the ease of services provided by their community pharmacists.”

A companion bill, H.R. 616, was introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Marion Berry, D-Ark., and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, in late January, and has drawn 45 co-sponsors.

NCPA asserts that the accreditation fees and implementation costs for the sale of DME are at least $5,000 to $7,000 per pharmacy and reoccur every three years.

“If pharmacists stop participating in the Medicare Part B program, patients will have to travel longer distances to get these supplies, which is especially problematic in rural states like Montana and Kansas where the local pharmacy is often the sole health care provider in a community,” the group noted. “Even worse, patients could turn to using mail order and Internet operations where fraud is more prevalent — which undermines the primary purpose of accreditation.”

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