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CVS announces annual ALS campaign

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS/pharmacy has announced the kick off of its annual ALS Fundraising Campaign in partnership with the ALS Therapy Alliance.

To date, the pharmacy retailer has raised more than $10 million in its stores—one $1 donation at a time—to support the fundraising of new clinical trials with the hope of discovering a treatment or cure for the disease. This year’s campaign runs through June 28.

ALS is a disorder in which there is progressive degeneration of motor nerves in the brain and spinal cord leading to paralysis and death, typically three to five years. There is no known cause or cure for ALS, which affects 25,000 Americans, with 5,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

The honorary co-chairs of this year’s campaign are Jeanne Bouley, a former CVS employee and ALS patient, and Jon Roberts, senior vice president and chief information officer of CVS Caremark.

“The support from CVS/pharmacy customers for ALS is phenomenal year after year,” stated Roberts. “Our employees have rallied around the cause as well and they ask each and every customer to support ALS research during our campaign season. In this way, we have raised more than $10 million with 100 percent of donations going directly to the ALS Therapy Alliance to fund their groundbreaking research.”

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Duane Reade teams up with GMHC to provide HIV testing

BY Adam Kraemer

NEW YORK Duane Reade announced on Monday a partnership with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis to offer free HIV/AIDS testing at select locations.

GMHC’s mobile testing units have been stationed outside select Duane Reade locations since May, offering free, confidential on-the-spot tests and counseling.

“As New York’s leading drug store, we strive to provide affordable and convenient services that aid in improving the health and overall wellbeing of New Yorkers,” said John Lederer, chairman and chief executive officer of Duane Reade. “We are excited about this partnership with GMHC and we look forward to increasing awareness and offering opportunities for HIV testing in communities throughout New York City.”

While appointments are not necessary, CMHC recommends calling their hotline at 800-243-7692 to get a schedule of times and locations.

“We know that fear and the stigma of HIV and AIDS continues to keep people from getting tested and accessing care,” said Marjorie Hill, chief executive officer of Gay Men’s Health Crisis. “Having a trusted family friend like Duane Reade as a partner helps us to break through the barriers associated with HIV testing.”

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Rite Aid to issue new bonds in move to add $300 million in liquidity

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid last week announced plans to issue new debt in an effort to refinance $710 million in existing bonds, a move that should lift any pressure from near-term liquidity concerns and allow the company to focus more readily on long-term earnings objectives, Meredith Adler, Lehman Bros. analyst, noted in a research note released Thursday.

The new debt, though at a higher cost, allows Rite Aid to add approximately $300 million in additional liquidity, Adler wrote.

“We believe the reduced risk exposure to equity holders more than offsets the added cost,” she added. “Today’s [monthly] sales results also reinforce our confidence in the outlook for the business and we expect coming data points to support the stock.”

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