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Deloitte forecasts 2% increase in 2010 holiday sales

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Retailers should expect a modest gain in holiday sales this year, according to a Deloitte forecast released Monday.

Deloitte’s retail group expects total holiday sales to reach $852 billion, representing a 2% increase in November through January holiday sale — excluding motor vehicles and gasoline — over last season.  This growth rate represents a slight improvement over last year’s 1% gain.

“Sustained weakness in the housing and employment markets continue to restrict consumer cash flow,” said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist. “Consumers’ discretionary funds have dwindled as households remain focused on reducing debt and increasing their savings, while banks continue to limit access to credit and stimulus checks have run out. Should consumers receive good tidings later this season in the way of falling energy prices or additional stock market gains, they may be able to lend retailers a bit more holiday cheer. However, given the unsteady pace of economic recovery, retailers should expect only a small uptick in holiday sales this year.”

Alison Paul, vice chairman and Deloitte’s retail sector leader in the United States, added that e-commerce’s “convenience and functionality” will aid holiday sales this year as well, as “social networks and mobile applications are playing a more prominent role in the shopping process.”

For more information about Deloitte’s retail practice, please visit Deloitte.com/us/retail.

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BI commences late-stage clinical trial for breast cancer treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

INGELHEIM, Germany Boehringer Ingelheim has started a late-stage clinical trial of a drug for treating breast cancer, the German drug maker said Friday.

 

The phase 3 trial, dubbed the “LUX-Breast 1” trial, will evaluate the drug afatinib in patients with advanced breast cancer. The drug is a tablet that BI said was the first to inhibit two chemicals involved in tumor growth — the epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR, and the human epidermal receptor, also known as HER2.

 

 

“We have seen positive results in our proof-of-concept studies for afatinib in breast cancer, and are glad to advance the program into pivotal phase 3,” BI corporate SVP medicine Klaus Dugi said. “We are delighted to be able to initiate this important trial together with a range of leading investigators to assess the value of afatinib for women with advanced breast cancer.”

 

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Emergent to develop anthrax vaccine on HHS’ behalf

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON Emergent BioSolutions has landed a $51 million contract from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to develop a new anthrax vaccine.

In the first two years of the contract, Emergent will develop the final vaccine formulation and test its stability. HHS said it can extend the contract annually for up to three years to support scale-up and optimization for large-scale manufacturing, as well as additional animal studies needed to apply for Food and Drug Administration approval of the vaccine.

If the government extends the contract for all three years, the total five-year contract value could be $186.6 million.

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