Pet goods bark success
Americans still are spending on their pets. The American Pet Products Association projected that consumers spent $47.7 billion on their furry friends in 2010, an increase of 4.9% over 2009.
Sales of pet beds, leashes and inexpensive toys still were strong sellers. Treat-dispensing toys, such as Premier Pet Products’ Busy Buddy, are must-have items. When priced right, they generate strong impulse purchases.
Pet food sales were up 4% in 2010, according to the APPA. Pet supplies and over-the-counter products showed even stronger growth, up nearly 6% in 2010 — a trend that should continue as pets live longer and develop more age-associated problems. Animal obesity also is on the rise, and pet food formulas are targeting health benefits.
“Functional benefits that we’ve seen in human food have made their way to the pet food category,” said Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry. New food products touting such benefits as probiotics and antioxidants, as well as such ingredients as essential fatty acids, glucosamine and even acai, are making their way into the market.
Pet owners also show less resistance to splurge on pet treats. Petfood Industry data indicated that 80% of all dog owners bought treats for their pets. About one-half of dog owners bought up to five packages of treats in 12 months, and 60% have purchased chews in the past 12 months. Among cat owners, nearly 70% bought treats in the past year.
Life after Kinray
WHITESTONE, N.Y. — Call him “Stewie Rah Rah.” He doesn’t mind. Stewart Rahr, the man in the bright yellow sunglasses who led Kinray to become the nation’s top independently owned pharmaceutical wholesaler, soon will have more time for his other interests.
In November, Kinray struck a $1.3 billion deal to merge with Cardinal Health. The buyout, expected to be finalized by spring, will end one of the most colorful and successful chapters in the annals of the drug distribution industry. Rahr, the son of a pharmacist, worked at his dad’s drug store and dropped out of law school to help build the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based drug distribution business his father founded as Kinray in 1944.
Beginning as a tiny local operation doing less than $1 million in distribution revenues in the mid-1970s, today Kinray has grown to a 400,000-sq.-ft. distribution center at its Whitestone, N.Y., campus, generating $3.6 billion in annual revenues and employing some 800 people. Its loyal customer base includes some 2,000 independent pharmacy customers, many of who operate in the New York/New Jersey metro area, but some of who order generics and other supplies from Kinray from as far as the western United States.
Kinray’s success can be tied directly to Rahr’s insistence on a culture of personal, highly responsive service and rapid order turnaround; pharmacy owners know they can pick up the phone and directly call Kinray’s CEO if there’s a problem. Rahr also was an early adopter of high-tech fulfillment capabilities.
As Kinray grew, so, too, did its CEO’s personal fortune. Prior to the Cardinal deal, Forbes magazine estimated Rahr’s fortune at $2.1 billion and named him No. 170 on its list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. Some of that money goes to charity. A well-known philanthropist, Rahr heavily donates to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Christopher Reeves Coalition, Citymeals-on-Wheels, many health advocacy and research groups, the Israeli Defense Fund and victims of 9/11. Besides lending time and funding to the move to draft Donald Trump as a presidential contender, Rahr also is rumored to be considering buying an NBA team.
Researchers find link between heart attacks, Alzheimer’s
BOLOGNA, Italy — Data from a new study by scientists in Italy could help physicians calculate patients’ risks for Alzheimer’s disease and heart attacks. Researchers at the University of Bologna said they found a common genetic link between heart attacks and Alzheimer’s, according to results of a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The researchers examined the DNA of 1,800 people, including 280 who had experienced heart attacks, 257 with Alzheimer’s and a control group of 1,307 healthy people. Organizing participants into six groups — with groups one through three classified as low risk, and groups four through six classified as high risk — the researchers focused on groups four and six, which were classified as having a high risk of suffering heart attacks and developing Alzheimer’s. These two groups had shown a common genetic predisposition for both diseases, and the researchers found the predisposition in 30% of heart attack sufferers and 40% of those with Alzheimer’s.
“Until now, we only knew about individual genes linked to both diseases, and this was not sufficient to develop an individual test for the risk,” University of Bologna immunologist and lead study author Federico Licastro stated. “However, we have now been able to identify a genetic profile of several genes partially common to both diseases. This is the leap in quality that now enables us to conduct a test and assess a profile partially specific to both diseases.”
The researchers conceded that one of the techniques used could be controversial. To study participants’ DNA, they used a statistical method known as grade of membership analysis. While it has been applied to such diseases as mental disorders and cancers, the international scientific community still is debating its use. “However, it is only by using such statistical analyses that such diseases can be tested, conducting tests on only a few hundred cases,” Licastro said. “Classical statistics would require us to test 10, 12 or even 20 or 30 thousand cases.”