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FDA panel recommends approval for lupus drug Benlysta

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. A decision by a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee could pave the way for the first new drug to treat lupus in decades.

 

The FDA’s Arthritis Advisory Committee voted 13-2 Tuesday to recommend approval for Benlysta (belimumab), a drug for systemic lupus erythematosus made by British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline and U.S.-based Human Genome Sciences, the two companies announced. Lupus is an inflammatory disorder that affects internal organs, joints and skin and, in its severest forms, can be fatal.

 

 

Due to the relative paucity of treatments available for the disease, the FDA granted priority review to the drug in August. If approved, Benlysta could become the first new treatment for lupus in more than 50 years.

 

 

FDA advisory committee decisions do not guarantee approval, but they are taken into account when the FDA decides whether to approve a drug.

 

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Sales slide continues at Walmart as profit goal is met

BY DSN STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Weak sales trends continued at Walmart’s U.S. stores division during the third quarter as same-store sales declined 1.3%; however, the company managed to meet analysts’ third-quarter earnings per share target of 90 cents.

 

Inclusion of a five cents a share tax benefit resulted in third-quarter earnings per share of 95 cents and caused the company to raise the full-year profit forecast to a range of $4.08 to $4.12 from $3.95 to $4.05.

 

 

Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke said the company performed well in the third quarter and delivered solid earnings growth for shareholders.

 

 

“Our company now has delivered four consecutive quarter of operating expense leverage, and we continue to grow operating income faster than sales,” Duke said.

 

 

Operating income during the quarter grew 3.1% to $5.6 billion while sales increased 2.6% to slightly more than $101 billion.

 

 

Sales at the U.S. stores division were essentially flat at $62.2 billion, while operating profits increased 1.9% to $4.4 billion. The 1.3% comp decline at the U.S. division marked the sixth consecutive quarter of declining comps, and Walmart left open the possibility of a fourth-quarter decline by offering a guidance range of negative 1% to plus 2%.

 

 

Internationally, sales on a constant currency basis increased 7.9% to $26.6 billion, and operating profits increased 12.4% to $1.2 billion. Including favorable currency benefits, sales increased 9.3% to $26.9 billion, and profit increased 13.5% to $1.223 billion.

 

Sales at Sam’s Club increased 2.7% to $12.1 billion, while operating profits declined 7.1% to $367 million, and same-store sales, excluding the favorable impact of rising fuel prices, increased 2.4%.

 

“Our international business continues to deliver impressive results, with sales up more than 9%,” Duke said. “We are also pleased with the ongoing sales momentum at Sam’s Club and expect that momentum to continue in the fourth quarter. Our Walmart U.S. business is on the right track with third-quarter comps sales with guidance and operating income growing faster than sales.”

 

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Eagle Pack named sponsor of 2011 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

BY Allison Cerra

TEWKSBURY, Mass. — A natural pet food brand has been named the official dog food of an upcoming sled dog race.

Eagle Pack said it would sponsor the 2011 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which runs from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. As the official dog food sponsor, Eagle Pack will supply food along the trail, and will dedicate funds to the health and care of the Iditarod dogs.

Al Townshend, Eagle Pack’s staff veterinarian and a former recipient of the Iditarod’s Golden Stethoscope Award for ultimate canine caregiving, knows firsthand what mushers on the trail need to keep all the dogs in top shape. "Eagle Pack’s high-quality, performance-proven formula has been developed with canine athletes and quality breeders. This has helped us make better foods for all dogs, not just those that require exceptional nutrition, and resulted in our gaining an advanced understanding of a dog’s true needs," he said.

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