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Hy-Vee focuses on heart health in circular

BY Alaric DeArment

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Supermarket and retail pharmacy chain Hy-Vee is marking American Heart Month in February with a special ad circular.

The chain announced Friday that the circular would contain nutrition information, shopping tips and heart-healthy recipes from Hy-Vee chefs.

The campaign also is being coordinated with the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign, with five female chefs appearing in the ad, each pictured preparing a heart-healthy dish, with nutritional and recipe information included. The chain also is including its 150 retail dietitians and having them work with in-store chefs to create healthy recipes.

“Dietitians have a lot of knowledge about foods that can foster health, but the chefs have that special ability to take those healthy ingredients and turn them into something delicious,” said Julie Gieseman, a dietitian at one of Hy-Vee’s West Des Moines stores.

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Allegra’s OTC switch could make it a big player in market

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Though Schering-Plough’s — now Merck’s — Claritin and Johnson & Johnson’s Zyrtec product lines have dominated the over-the-counter antihistamine market, the big share of the prescription antihistamine market held by Sanofi-Aventis’ Allegra (fexofenadine hydrochloride) could give it a battering ram to bust in as well, thanks to the big break Sanofi got in the form of a Food and Drug Administration approval of an OTC switch for the drug.

(THE NEWS: Sanofi successfully switches Allegra. For the full story, click here)

On the subject of big-ticket mergers and acquisitions in the drug industry, the entry of Pfizer and Merck into the biotech industry with their respective purchases of Wyeth and Schering-Plough — as well as French drug maker Sanofi’s efforts to acquire Genzyme — has been the dominant theme as the business model of developing widely used blockbuster drugs has begun to collapse due to generic competition.

But the three companies also have sought to drive growth by entering the OTC market, with Sanofi getting into the business through its purchase of Chattem. That acquisition will give it the necessary expertise and market access to turn Allegra into a major player in the OTC antihistamine market once it becomes available in March.

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UT Southwestern may have found potential cure for Type 1 diabetes

BY Allison Cerra

DALLAS — Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center suggested that taking away the actions of a certain hormone can alter Type 1 diabetes into "an asymptomatic, noninsulin-dependent disorder."

When testing mice, the researchers found that insulin is not depended on when the body’s hormone, glucagon, is suppressed.

"We’ve all been brought up to think insulin is the all-powerful hormone without which life is impossible, but that isn’t the case," said Roger Unger, professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study appearing online and in the February issue of Diabetes. "If diabetes is defined as restoration of glucose homeostasis to normal, then this treatment can perhaps be considered very close to a ‘cure.’"

Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is a disease that occurs when the body does not produce insulin. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.

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