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App to convince kids to do chores for reward points takes top prize in Sears Holdings competition

BY Alaric DeArment

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — More than 150 programmers competed over three days to develop mobile apps that interface with Sears Holdings’ Shop Your Way loyalty program as part of the retailer’s Startup + Developer Challenge code-a-thon.

The retailer announced Tuesday the winners of the contest, Team Omega Ortega, which developed the grand prize-winning app, The Chore Score, and received a test budget from the company. The app is designed to give kids an incentive to do their chores, developing a chore list, tracking their progress and earning reward points for doing chores that can be redeemed within the app, online or in the store.

"Part of our transformation into the world’s greatest integrated retailer is our ongoing commitment to drive industry-leading innovation, fueled by world-class talent, Sears Holdings EVP and president for marketing, online, pricing and financial services said. "The Sears Startup + Developer Challenge showcased to some of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley how we’ve used technology to make the shopping experience convenient and rewarding for our Shop Your Way members to drive the business."


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P&G provides grant to support World Dental Posters

BY Antoinette Alexander

CINCINNATI — Procter & Gamble, the makers of Crest and Oral-B, along with Stephen Hancocks Ltd., have announced that the World Dental Posters site will now be sponsored through an educational grant from P&G.

World Dental Posters is an open access site launched in March that provides scientific researchers the opportunity to upload their peer-reviewed posters at no cost for as long as they wish. Typically, peer-reviewed posters are presented at industry congresses, conferences and meetings or through subscription-based journals. The site gives the authors another channel to present their findings, and also provides citable references that informed the research, without losing copyright protection for the individual authors.

Philip Giorgi, managing director and co-owner of Stephen Hancocks Ltd., conceived the idea for World Dental Posters after seeing a pile of posters discarded at numerous international dental conferences and congresses. He realized there was an opportunity to identify a way to keep this research available for others to see around the world.

“As a company, we are passionate about research in the development of our products and technologies,” stated Leslie Winston of P&G Global Oral Care Professional & Scientific Relations. “We are, therefore, pleased to support World Dental Posters with a grant as a way to allow, in particular, young and innovative researchers in the field of oral health to disseminate their findings and discover others working in similar areas.”

Posters uploaded on the World Dental Posters site are indexed by title, author name(s) and key words and can remain on the site for free for as long as the author(s) wish. Future developments will include forum and discussion areas for connecting researchers with similar interests and ideas from different geographic locations who might otherwise be unaware of each other’s work.


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Reports: Calif. lower house passes biosimilars bill

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Lawmakers in California have passed a bill that would restrict the use of follow-on versions of biotech drugs known as biosimilars, according to published reports.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the California Assembly had passed the latest in a string of biosimilar carve-out bills to appear in state legislatures across the country. The bill, which had received support from biotech companies like Amgen and Genentech, both based in the state, would require pharmacists to notify physicians and patients if they swap a branded biotech drug for a biosimilar. The legislation will be sent for reconciliation to the Senate, which passed it in May, and then on to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not indicated whether he will sign it, according to Bloomberg.

Generic drug companies have criticized the bills, saying they would restrict patients’ access to cheaper alternatives to expensive biotech drugs, which can cost anywhere to a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars per year. Nearly a dozen similar bills have been defeated, while North Dakota passed one intact. Oregon, Utah and Virginia passed the bills as well, but they contain sunset clauses that will cause them to expire before biosimilars are expected to enter the market.

The California bill also contains a sunset clause, requiring pharmacists to issue notifications of substitutions only until Jan. 1, 2017. The sunset clauses are significant because many analysts say it will be several years before biosimilars become available, and by the time they do, the laws with the clauses may have already expired.

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association, a Washington-based trade group for the generic drug industry, had opposed the legislation, as had the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, a state pension fund for public employees also known as CalPERS.


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