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IRI: First-quarter jump in consumer confidence holding firm over the second quarter

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Consumer confidence was relatively flat in second-quarter 2014 after dramatically increasing in first-quarter 2014, according to IRI’s latest MarketPulse survey released Monday. Sentiment remains consistent for millennials, while it dipped slightly among baby boomers and Generation Xers.
 
“Even though the economy is gradually rebounding, consumers are cautiously optimistic about their financial health,” stated Susan Viamari, editor, Thought Leadership, IRI. “We are seeing the ranks of those consumers who are experiencing and even expecting economic improvement slowly beginning to rise. Of particular note are millennials, who have suffered more and longer than others, and are reporting that they have been feeling more comfortable for the last two quarters. Time will tell, but, for now, this indicates that the stabilization of the economy is reaching a bit deeper across consumer segments.”
 
After a significant jump in Q1 2014, confidence is leveling off. Whether this stability continues remains to be seen, but for now, 16% of consumers say they feel “a little better” about their current financial situation compared to 13% in Q2 2011, the first year IRI began conducting the MarketPulse survey. In addition, the skeptics are becoming fewer in number. This quarter, 22% indicate they feel “a little worse” compared to 25% in Q2 2011, and 13% say they feel a “lot worse” in Q2 2014 compared to 15% in Q2 2011. Those who feel “a lot better” remained flat at 3% compared to Q2 2011, while consumers who feel the “same” is 46% in Q2 2014 compared to 43% during the same time period in 2011.
 
Consumers across the board are expecting their home values, value of investments as well as their ability to save improve in the coming year.“Seeing your nest egg not only stabilize but grow goes a really long way in boosting confidence,” Viamari said. “Consumers are feeling a bit more comfortable about loosening their grip on the purse strings, but they will be very pragmatic about increased spending and splurging.”
 
IRI’s MarketPulse survey illustrates that cutbacks are still widespread, but the stronghold is easing a bit. 
 
“A critical takeaway from our latest MarketPulse survey is that, while optimism is emerging, consumers’ continued commitment to find maximum value is as strong as ever,” concluded Viamari. “One-third of consumers tell us that they will continue to shop multiple stores to find the lowest prices.”

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Imbruvica gets expanded approval from FDA

BY Ryan Chavis

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration on Monday expanded the approved use of Imbruvica (ibrutinib) to treat patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia who carry a deletion in chromosome 17, which is associated with poor responses to the standard treatment for CLL, according to the agency. The drug received breakthrough therapy designation for this use.

The agency is also approving new labeling to reflect the drug's clinical benefit in treating CLL, which is a rare blood and bone marrow disease that typically gets worse slowly over time. This causes a gradual increase in white blood cells called B lymphocytes.

“We continue to see advances in the availability of therapies to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia, especially for difficult-to-treat patient populations,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Imbruvica is the fourth drug approved to treat CLL that received a breakthrough therapy designation, reflecting the promise of the breakthrough therapy designation program and demonstrating the FDA’s commitment to working cooperatively with companies to expedite the development, review and approval of these important new drugs.”

Imbruvica is co-marketed by Pharmacyclics and Janssen Biotech.

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Sandoz takes step toward first U.S. generic biosimilar with FDA filing

BY David Salazar

HOLZKIRCHEN, Germany — The Food and Drug Administration has accepted a license application by Sandoz, Novartis' generics company, for a potential generic biologic drug, the company announced.

If approved, this would be the first biosimilar generic in the United States since the passage of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, which cuts down the approval process for potential biosimilar generics.

The application is to create a generic version of the biosimilar drug filgrastim, which is used to treat neutropenia, a condition that typically accompanies cancer or bone marrow diseases that causes a low white blood cell count. Amgen currently sells filgrastim as Neupogen. 

“This filing acceptance represents a significant step toward making high-quality biologics more accessible in the U.S.,” Sandoz’s head of global biopharmaceutical and oncology injectable,  Mark McCamish, said . “As they’ve done in Europe and other highly-regulated markets around the world, biosimilars are poised to increase US patient access to affordable, high-quality biologics, while reducing the financial burden on payers and the overall healthcare system.”

Sandoz currently sells its version of filgrastim as Zarzio in 40 other countries. 

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