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U.S. retail sales drop 1.2%

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON U.S. retail sales dropped 1.2% for the month of May, the Census Bureau announced this week.

May retail sales might only have totaled $362.5 billion, but it was a 6.9% rise from May 2009, the report noted.

Advance estimates were not available for the retail pharmacy and drug store sector, the Census Bureau said in its report. Health and personal care stores, however, slightly increased to roughly $21.84 million from $21.77 million from April. The grocery store sector also saw an increase in sales, rising to $43.84 million from $43.61 million. To date, health and personal care stores and grocery store sales rose 2.9% and 2.5%, respectively, in a five-month period, compared with the same period a year ago.

Commenting on this month’s retail sales results, Commerce Dept. secretary Gary Locke said the data showed uncertainty remains and there is a long road ahead to “ensure long-term economic stability. Overall, consumer spending has increased modestly this quarter, and as Americans continue to cut down their debt, financial positions will improve. That will help spur future economic growth and help put people back to work,” Locke said.

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MannKind: Afrezza works just as effectively as competing diabetes drugs in trial

BY Alaric DeArment

VALENCIA, Calif. An investigational insulin made by MannKind works at least as well in patients with Type 1 diabetes as the standard therapy, MannKind said Thursday.

The drug maker said a 16-week clinical trial showed that the fast-acting inhaled mealtime insulin Afrezza (insulin human [rDNA origin]) combined with basal insulin worked as well as Eli Lilly’s injectable Humalog (insulin lispro [rDNA origin]). In addition, MannKind said, patients taking Afrezza showed lower rates of hypoglycemia – or low blood sugar – in after-meal and fasting blood glucose levels than those taking Humalog.

“Effectively controlling blood sugar levels and managing hypoglycemic events go hand in hand as key to successfully treating patients with Type 1 diabetes,” lead study investigator and University of Colorado medical professor Satish Garg said. “Our findings demonstrate that Afrezza may offer a significant advance from current mealtime insulin delivery methods, as it is comparable to the standard of care in glycemic control and provides the additional benefit of lower hypoglycemia rates.”

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Bayer HealthCare: Betaferon’s safety record proven in follow-up trial

BY Alaric DeArment

BERLIN German drug maker Bayer HealthCare said a 16-year follow-up to a clinical trial of one of its multiple sclerosis drugs supported the drug’s safety record.

Bayer said results of the follow-up study for Betaferon (interferon-beta-1b), published Tuesday in the journal Neurology, revealed no new or unexpected harmful side effects emerging with long-term therapy, while observed side effects related to the drug decreased over time. The drug is marketed in the United States and Canada as Betaseron.

“These data confirm that Betaferon has a favorable safety and tolerability profile,” lead study author and University of Chicago neurology professor Anthony Reder said. “Over the years, healthcare professionals have been able to greatly reduce treatment-related adverse events and increase patients’ adherence to Betaferon therapy with dose escalation at initiation of therapy and the routine use of an autoinjector and co-medication with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.”

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