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MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse report reveals increase in online retail sales

BY Allison Cerra

PURCHASE, N.Y. — MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse revealed that online retail sales rose 14% over the year-ago period, marking the 24th straight month of year-over-year growth, as well as the ninth consecutive month of double-digit growth, with improvement in every subcategory except for electronics.

The macroeconomic report, which tracks national retail and services sales, noted that 14% year-over-year growth for the overall online retail category, however, was the smallest increase for e-commerce since February 2011, and is an expected seasonal slowing. Overall, various sectors in retail were sluggish for the month.

“Sector weaknesses are the result of a variety of drivers,” MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse VP research and analysis Michael McNamara said.

McNamara added that consumers paid about $1 more per gallon of gasoline in July 2011 that the year-ago period, which potentially could have put a damper on sales. “At about 10.9 billion gallons pumped this July, that price increase is redirecting almost $11 billion per month towards gasoline spending and away from other areas of consumer spending, or savings,” he said.

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Merck KGaA completes enrollment in late-stage trial for Parkinson’s disease drug

BY Alaric DeArment

DARMSTADT, Germany — Merck KGaA has finished enrolling patients in a late-stage clinical study of a drug for Parkinson’s disease, the German drug maker said.

Merck KGaA, which is a separate company from U.S.-based Merck & Co. and operates in the United States under the name EMD, said 549 patients with mid- to late-stage Parkinson’s had enrolled in the phase-3 "SETTLE" study of safinamide. The study is designed to evaluate the drug’s safety and efficacy as an add-on therapy to levodopa, a common treatment for Parkinson’s.

The study is part of a broader program for the drug and will last for six months.

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Stiefel seeks FDA approval for tazarotene foam

BY Allison Cerra

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — GlaxoSmithKline company Stiefel announced it is seeking approval for a facial acne treatment in patients ages 12 years and older.

Stiefel said it has submitted a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration for tazarotene foam. Tazarotene foam is subject to evaluation and approval by the regulatory authorities before it can be made available to physicians for prescribing to their appropriate patients, Stiefel said.

Last month, Stiefel brought to market its Revaleskin-branded anti-aging treatment, Revaleskin Illuminesse Brightening Complex.

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