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GfK: Holiday shoppers to maintain, restrict spending; seek best prices

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Economic anxiety continues to plague U.S. consumers, with 84% planning to spend the same or less this holiday season, according to a new report released by GfK Custom Research North America on Thursday.

According to GfK’s 2011 holiday shopping survey, which polled 1,007 Americans ages 18 years and older, 40% of American households will spend less this year, while 44% will spend the same amount they did in 2010. GfK added that 11% plan to spend more.

When it comes to what will drive spending, consumers are most concerned with finding the best price (96%), making it easy for them to find and purchase a desired item (90%), as well as the offer of free shipping from online retailers (90%).

"The competition between online and brick-and-mortar retailers will continue to intensify as the challenge for all retailers is compounded by shoppers who feel more in control of the purchasing process than ever before (70%) and who feel that retailers and advertisers have less influence over them (50%)," GfK Consumer SVP Lew Paine said. "This continues to reduce consumer loyalty to retailers. In fact, according to our future buy 2011 consumer study, more than half agree that they are less loyal to any one retailer because they need to shop around more to find the best value."

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Hamacher identifies six front-end growth drivers for independents

BY Michael Johnsen

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Hamacher Resource Group identified six categories — first aid, eye/ear care, sun care, smoking cessation, durable medical equipment (including incontinence products) and foot care — that are selling better in independent pharmacies over chain pharmacies as part of a white paper released Thursday.

Of these, sales of first aid products, eye/ear care solutions and smoking deterrents more than doubled in independent pharmacies versus chain pharmacies. Hamacher credited first aid growth to manufacturers focusing on selling through to customers of independent pharmacies. Growth in eye care and ear care products can be attributed to an aging baby boomer. And in eye care, a side effect of several prescription remedies is dry eye, a condition for which consumers typically don’t consult their physician. And the increase in smoking cessation sales reflects an increased interest in self-care, the white paper noted.

The white paper outlines strategies independent pharmacists can explore to better capitalize on these opportunities. The study was completed with the support of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

The white paper, titled  “Supply Chain Collaboration:  Maximizing Health, Beauty, and Wellness Product Sales in Independent Pharmacy,” can be downloaded by clicking here


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Vertex seeks approval for cystic fibrosis drug

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Vertex Pharmaceuticals has filed for Food and Drug Administration approval of a drug for cystic fibrosis, the company said.

Vertex announced the submission to the FDA of an application for approval and priority review of Kalydeco (ivacaftor), which it said was potentially the first medicine to target the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis, namely mutations in the CFTR gene that causes defective or missing CFTR proteins that inhibit the flow of salt and water across cell membranes and lead to mucus buildup.

If the FDA grants Vertex’s request for priority review, it will reduce the amount of time needed to review the application from 10 months to six months.

"Kalydeco represents a completely new approach to the treatment of CF  by targeting the underlying cause of the disease," Vertex president, chairman and CEO Matthew Emmens said. "This is our second new drug application in less than a year, which is a significant achievement and underscores our commitment to developing new medicines for people with serious diseases."

The FDA approved Vertex’s hepatitis C drug Incivek (telaprevir) in May.


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