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Tibotec unveils efficacy results for investigational HIV drug

BY Alaric DeArment

VIENNA An investigational treatment for HIV made by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Tibotec Pharmaceuticals works as well in adults receiving treatment for the first time as drugs already on the market, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial presented Thursday at the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna.

Pooled results of the “ECHO” and “THRIVE” phase 3 trials found that 84.3% of patients taking TMC278 (rilpivirine) achieved undetectable viral loads, compared with 82.3% of those taking Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Sustiva (efavirenz). More than 1,300 patients participated in the trials.

Though the differences in efficacy were not significant, fewer patients taking TMC278 appeared to experience side effects than those taking Sustiva, with adverse reactions leading to discontinuation of use occurring in 3.4% of patients taking TMC278, compared with 7.6% of those taking Sustiva. Other side effects possibly related to use of the drugs occurred in 15.9% of patients taking TMC278, compared with 31.1% of those taking Sustiva.

“I’m very excited by the findings of these phase 3 results for TMC278,” lead study investigator Calvin Cohen said. “These studies provide valuable information on the safety and tolerability of TMC278, and, specifically, its metabolic and [central nervous system] side effect profiles.”

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NRF: Swipe fee fix battle ‘isn’t over’

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON Despite the signing of a financial-reform legislation that will curb the credit and debit card swipe fees paid by retailers and their customers each year, the National Retail Federation said it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

While President Obama on Wednesday signed H.R. 4173, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act of 2010 — named for Senate Banking Committee chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass. — NRF president and CEO Matt Shay said that while the legislation “is a dramatic first step in the fight to control rising credit and debit card fees and has tremendous potential for savings,” he added that big banks may press such regulators as the Federal Reserve “as it drafts the regulations intended to result in the ‘reasonable’ debit card fees sought by Congress.”

Shay said, “Congress realizes that debit cards are simply plastic checks, and has said the Federal Reserve should look at them with paper checks in mind. The result shouldn’t be swipe fees being cut by a quarter or even a half. The result should be plastic checks that get paid at essentially face value.”

Swipe fees –– officially known as interchange fees –– are a percentage of the transaction charged by card company banks each time a card is swiped to pay for a purchase.

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Save-A-Lot enters Hispanic supermarket venture

BY DSN STAFF

ST. LOUIS Save-A-Lot announced that it has teamed up with Hispanic grocery operator Rafael Ortega to form a new company, Adventure Supermarkets. The new company owns and operates six former Save-A-Lot stores in the Houston and South Texas markets under a co-branded format, “El Ahorro Save-A-Lot.”

“We are always looking for innovative opportunities to bring the Save-A-Lot brand to local communities, and we think this affiliation best enables us to serve the Hispanic community in this area,” said Bill Shaner, Save-A-Lot president and CEO. “This relationship is a new business model for the company. Combining Mr. Ortega’s local insights with the power of the Save-A-Lot network of stores and exclusive-label expertise will enhance our ability to provide our Hispanic customers in this part of the country with the products and services they need and want, while positioning the Save-A-Lot brand for growth.”

Ortega has 24 years of experience in serving the Hispanic community in Texas and currently owns and operates 15 El Ahorro Supermarkets and almost 100 La Michoacana Meat Markets, Save-A-Lot reported.

“I am pleased about joining with Save-A-Lot in this opportunity and excited about the potential of our new, blended format,” said Rafael Ortega.

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