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Ralphs, Food 4 Less raise funds for children

BY Allison Cerra

LOS ANGELES Two banners owned by Kroger are raising funds for pediatric research and hospitals.

Ralphs has rolled out its charitable campaign to benefit City of Hope, which aids pediatric research, treatment and educational programs. Ralphs encourages customers and team members to support the City of Hope’s pediatric cancer “Kids 4 Hope” program through the supermarket chain’s nonprofit arm, The Ralphs Fund, through Feb. 27. Last year, Ralphs provided more than $8 million in cash and in-kind donations to organizations focused on health, education, the fight against hunger, developing our youth, and the environment.

Meanwhile, Food 4 Less announced last week said it would raise funds to support children’s hospitals in the communities its stores serve in Southern California, southern Nevada, and the greater Chicago area. In addition, the supermarket chain’s Foods Co Division is collecting donations for children’s hospitals in central and northern California. The children’s hospital fund-raising campaign will run from February 1 through May 22, 2010. Since 2005, Food 4 Less/Foods Co, its team members and customers have given more than $1 million to children’s hospitals.

“With thousands of children diagnosed each year with cancer, the City of Hope’s Kids for Hope program is important in the fight against the disease, and Ralphs is proud to support this important effort,” said Mike Donnelly, Ralphs president.

Ralphs operates more than 260 supermarkets from its headquarters in Los Angeles. Food 4 Less, also headquartered in Los Angeles, operates 146 warehouse-format supermarkets under the banners Food 4 Less in Southern California, Nevada, Illinois and Indiana, and Foods Co in Northern California.

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GSK may venture into rare disease treatments

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON GlaxoSmithKline has identified more than 5,500 rare diseases it could potentially target as part of a new drug-development initiative, the British drug maker announced Thursday.

GSK said it would start a new standalone business unit specializing in creating drugs for treating rare diseases, many of them genetic disorders that can cause lifelong disability or premature death. The company plans to work with Netherlands-based Prosensa and Japan-based JCR Pharmaceuticals, which it entered collaborations with in 2009.

The partnership with Prosensa, which started in October, focuses on drugs based on nucleic acid for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. With JCR, GSK will help develop drugs for Hunter syndrome, Fabry disease and Gaucher disease.

“The entry into this new therapeutic area forms part of GSK’s strategy to deliver more products of value and improve returns in R&D through a focus on areas with a higher probability of success,” GSK SVP drug discovery Patrick Vallance stated. “The risk associated with product discovery and development in rare diseases is generally lower than other disease areas as disease definitions are very clear and clinical trials tend to be small with robust endpoints.”

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Report: Kroger opens first Smith’s Express store

BY Allison Cerra

SALT LAKE CITY Kroger has opened its first fuel station-convenience store, according to local reports.

The grocer conglomerate’s Smith’s Express store features snacks, fountain beverages, tobacco products, ice, beer, auto needs as well as top-selling grocery and nonfood items. The first store is located in Sugar House, Utah and a second is planned for Salt Lake City this month.

Smith’s Food & Drug operates 132 stores and 62 gas stations in seven Western states, including 47 stores and 35 gas stations in Utah.

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