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Walgreens, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation partner on specialty pharmacy services

BY Alaric DeArment

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens will get a "significant" ownership stake in a specialty pharmacy that treats people with cystic fibrosis under a new deal with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the two announced Tuesday.

The pharmacy, Cystic Fibrosis Services, will continue to operate under its current name and remain based in Bethesda, Md. CF Services provides medications and treatment support for patients with the disease, which affects 30,000 people in the United States, causing debilitating lung infections and premature death. In the United States, 10 million people carry the defective CF gene, and the predicted median age of survival for a person with the disease is in the late 30s, according to the CF Foundation.

Walgreens said its more than 7,900 stores, including 180 hospital outpatient pharmacies, would be able to offer enhanced services to CF Services customers, including "unique" programs to help them manage their treatment regimen.

"Walgreens has a long-standing relationship with the CF community, and we understand the unique needs and challenges that CF patients and their families face," Walgreens VP specialty pharmacy and infusion Mike Ellis said. "By working with the CF Foundation, we are both committed to CF patients continuing to have access to the medications and services they need to stay healthy, and getting the greatest benefit from their relationship with their pharmacist."


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NRF: Holiday 2012 sales forecast to rise 4.1%, down from last year’s growth

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation released its 2012 holiday forecast on Tuesday, which shows sales increasing 4.1% to $586.1 billion, down from last year’s 5.6% growth.

However, the NRF’s 2012 estimate tops the 10-year holiday sales growth average of 3.5%.

"This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession. In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we’ll see solid holiday sales growth this year," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. "Variables including an upcoming presidential election, confusion surrounding the ‘fiscal cliff’ and concern relating to future economic growth could all combine to affect consumers’ spending plans, but overall we are optimistic that retailers promotions will hit the right chord with holiday shoppers."

Recent government data released show a crosscurrent of indicators that could impact holiday sales, including unimpressive job and income growth and an unemployment rate stuck at 8%. However, positive indicators are emerging that show a cautious but capable consumer, such as increases in confidence and home prices.

"While moderate compared to what we experienced the last two holiday seasons, the forecast is a very pragmatic look at what to expect this year given the current rate of economic growth," NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

In preparation for the holiday selling season, NRF has forecasted that retailers will hire between 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal workers, compared with the 607,500 seasonal employees hired last year.

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Omron’s latest pedometer enters market

BY Allison Cerra

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Omron has introduced its HJ-323U downloadable pedometer.

Aimed to provide an engaging and information-driven way to improve one’s health, the new pedometer features Omron Tri-Axis technology to count steps accurately; an online Web-based solution, whereby users can access, track and share their fitness activity; an automatic reset; a weekly log, which stores up to seven days of information; a 22-day memory and also includes five tracking modes: steps, aerobic "brisk" steps, pitch "average number of aerobic steps per minute," calories and daily distance. What’s more, the new pedometer’s software is compatible for both PC and Mac users

The HJ-323U downloadable pedometer carries a suggested retail price of $49.99 and currently is available at select online retailers.


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