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New equipment developed to accompany digital photo trend

BY Mike Duff

Drug chains and other retailers have been investing significantly in photo departments to keep a traditional operation viable during the switch to digital photography, and a new generation of equipment promises to help expand services and lower costs.

Kodak, for example, has launched APEX, a photo-printing system that demands less training, operational attention and space to maintain than wet labs, said Rowan Lawson of Kodak’s consumer digital group and worldwide kiosk marketing. The system frees personnel to help customers choose among the more sophisticated products, such as DVDs that provide soundtrack-enhanced photo presentations using software that keeps faces featured as the production progresses.

“We’ve seen an uptick in the growth of premium products when staff is available to spend more time at the counter,” Lawson said. “That’s why the consumer got into digital photography in the first place—to do more with the pictures.”

APEX systems start at less than $22,000 and offer a low cost of operation, as they don’t require the expenditures surrounding chemicals. Additionally, the eco-friendly thermal printing system APEX uses consumes 70% to 90% less energy than wet labs and less even than ink-jet printer dry labs.

Kodak first launched APEX in Europe, and it’s applying what it learned there to improving the U.S. start-up.

Ken Strait, managing director of Strait Photography in Morpeth, England, has installed an APEX system in his business and said it’s better on the balance.

“The way the store operates with an APEX is radically different,” he noted. “You have much less housekeeping to do, with no chemicals, no waste, no need for darkrooms and no process control.… The day-to-day function of the machine is so easy, with the APEX being ready for use in two, three minutes from throwing the power switch, and also minimum training is needed to operate the system.”

Fujifilm’s latest entry into the dry lab market is the Frontier DL42SD, an ink-jet minilab designed for easy operation and to produce high-quality, double-sided borderless prints that have particular application in producing custom photo books.

The Frontier DL42SD was introduced with the DL430, a dual-paper roll upgrade to a line that has evolved successfully from the DL400 to the DL410, which on April 1 received Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Award in the electronics category, based on its reduced water and power consumption and the elimination of photo processing chemicals.

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Kroger to serve as exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA Kroger will serve as the exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09, an outdoor Cinco de Mayo festival celebrating Latino culture, music and food.

Fiesta Atlanta ’09 takes place on Sunday, May 3 at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. For Kroger, the partnership represents the company’s commitment to the Hispanic community.

“We are very excited and looking forward to Fiesta Atlanta,” said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for Kroger’s Atlanta Division. “Kroger has always made exceptional efforts to serve the Hispanic community and joining this celebration is another commitment to our Hispanic customers.”

Atlanta’s largest Hispanic outdoor family festival, Fiesta Atlanta attracted over 40,000 attendees last year. This year’s event will once again feature authentic food from many Latin-American countries, arts and crafts, sponsor displays with many free product samples and continuous live musical performances by national and local recording artists.

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AARP cites big jump in Rx prices

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK A report by AARP indicated that prices for branded drugs have increased at a rate outpacing the rate of inflation by more than six percentage points.

 

The report found that manufacturers’ prices for branded drugs increased by 9% last year, compared with the general inflation rate of 3.8%. Meanwhile, prices of generic drugs decreased, on average, by 10.6%.

 

 

Generic drugs have already grown significantly over the years, accounting for 69% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States, but 16% of money spent on prescriptions, according to IMS Health. In 2007, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the average price of a generic prescription drug was $34.34, compared to $119.51 for a branded drug.

 

 

Price increases for branded drugs significantly higher than the overall rate of inflation, mixed with the recession, are likely to drive more consumers to generics. According to AARP, nearly a quarter of all older Americans skip medication doses because of the cost, while other studies have shown that many Americans facing economic hardship don’t have prescriptions filled at all.

 

 

At the same time, many branded pharmaceutical drugs – not to mention biologics – don’t yet have a generic version. This could create difficulties for elderly and other patients who may be able switch to medications that are cheaper, but different from what they take, or who take biologic drugs or newer drugs that have no equivalent on the market.

 

 

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association said the report indicated that generic medicines are “the right choice for better health.”

 

 

“During these difficult economic times, it is truly disturbing to hear reports that our nation’s seniors cannot afford their prescription drug costs,” GPhA president and CEO Kathleen Jaeger said in a statement responding to the report. “No one should be forced to choose between putting food on their table and paying for needed medicines.”

 

 

Jaeger also said the report illustrated the need for a regulatory pathway for biosimilars.

 

 

“It’s time to do right by our seniors and all Americans struggling with healthcare costs by approving legislation that brings safe, effective and affordable biogeneric medicines to patients sooner rather than later,” Jaeger said. “GPhA also strongly believes that increasing funding for FDA would ensure the more timely approval of generic medicines, increasing the opportunity for consumers to save immediately.”

 

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