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Novartis stays focused on shipping, developing vaccinations

BY Alaric DeArment

BAGSVAERD, Denmark — A lot has been happening at Swiss drug maker Novartis in the realm of vaccines.


In July, the company began early shipment of its flu vaccine, Fluvirin, in order to ensure that patients can receive the earliest possible protection against influenza. The drug maker plans to ship more than 30 million doses.


In June, the Food and Drug Administration accepted Novartis’ regulatory approval application for expanding the use of Menveo (meningococcal [Groups A, C, Y and W-135] oligosaccharide diphtheria CRM197 conjugate vaccine) to include infants and toddlers from the age of 2 months; the vaccine is approved for individuals ages 2 years to 55 years.


Also in June, Novartis announced results from a trial of Bexsero among 1,800 infants showing that it induces a “robust immune response” to meningococcal serogroup B when administered with other routine vaccines. Meningococcal serogroup B infection can be fatal among infants in their first year.

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Cargo theft, display swiping behind increase in retail crime

BY Michael Johnsen

The problem with shoplifting these days isn’t Little Johnny pocketing a pack of bubblegum, Joe LaRocca, senior asset protection adviser for the National Retail Federation, recently told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” during a broadcast interview. No, it’s a lot of Little Johnnies who are systematically swiping the entire gum display that’s becoming the problem. 


It’s organized retail crime, and it’s costing American retailers as much as $30 billion in lost sales annually, according to a Congressional Research Service report issued earlier this year. Those shoplifters feed a clandestine supply chain of stolen retail goods with hot selling items like over-the-counter pain relievers, blood-glucose monitor testing strips and infant formulas that are either unloaded directly through outlets like flea markets or are sold to “cleaners,” who — after removing security tags and refreshing the packaging — will sell them back to unsuspecting retailers. 


According to NRF’s “2011 Organized Retail Crime Survey,” nearly 85% of the senior loss prevention executives polled said organized retail crime activity in the United States has increased in the last three years. And half of all retailers have been victims of cargo theft in the past 12 months, losing entire trailers of merchandise that were en route from the distribution center to the store.

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NPLEx gaining strength in battle against meth

BY Michael Johnsen

More and more, the diversion of nonprescription pseudoephedrine is being halted at the pharmacy counter in real time thanks to tools like the National Precursor Log Exchange, funded entirely by the industry and now active in 17 states.

NPLEx is already operational in most of the states with the greatest number of operational meth labs — 78% of meth lab incidents in 2010 were concentrated across 11 states stretching from Alabama to Michigan, according to an El Paso Intelligence Center National Seizure System survey published in August. And NPLEx is active in all but three of those states. In all states where NPLEx is operational, 47,866 PSE sales were blocked each month over first quarter 2011, representing 4.1% of all sales. In non-NPLEx states over that quarter, 19,535 sales were blocked, representing 1.4% of sales, according to a Consumer Healthcare Products Association document. 


In the past year, as many as 16 states have been considering more radical legislation — mandating that common cough-cold products containing PSE be available only by prescription. It’s a move that significantly hampers legitimate consumer access to cough-cold relief and at the same time increases healthcare costs by requiring a doctor’s visit for the common cold, argued the CHPA. According to the CHPA, as many as 100 bills concerning the sale of PSE products have been filed across 24 states and 12 localities — including 26 bills to install electronic tracking mandates and 43 bills to re-classify PSE as prescription-only. 


The Virginia State Crime Commission last month identified four states where Rx-only laws are still under consideration: Alabama, Nevada, Oklahoma and Tennessee. All together, 19 states have electronic tracking mandates. An NPLEx bill in Georgia will be revisited in 2012. 


Rx-only legislation will likely return for debate in 2012 in four states: California, Hawaii, Kentucky and Oklahoma. In Michigan and Tennessee, Rx-only legislation currently stands before committees. In the remaining states where Rx-only legislation had been considered this year, that legislation is no longer active.

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