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Probiotics have a home at Wegmans

BY Michael Johnsen

HUNT VALLEY, Md. — Wegmans hosts a bevy of natural solutions (gluten-free foods, supplements and homeopathic solutions) just outside the grocer’s produce department, including this refrigerated unit replete with probiotics and flax-seed oil supplements.

Probiotics contain live bacteria cultures that can die if exposed to too much heat. Beyond probiotics, many liquid supplements need to be refrigerated to prevent spoiling.

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Drugstore.com refocuses on faster-growing segments

BY Allison Cerra

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Drugstore.com posted a 23% increase in adjusted net sales during its fourth quarter ended Jan. 2.

Total sales for the quarter were $123.6 million. Drugstore.com also said that it served 533,000 new customers, excluding its strategic partnerships.

The company also report a narrowed loss of $663,000, or 1 cent per share, an improvement from the prior-year period, when Drugstore.com recorded a net loss of $1.6 million and a net loss per share of 2 cents per share.

Commenting on the results, Drugstore.com’s CEO and chairman, Dawn Lepore, said the company has refocused on its faster-growing over-the-counter and vision segments — which rose 24% and 14%, respectively — after selling its pharmacy business assets to BioScrip.

"During 2010, we made important strategic progress, achieving our targets for OTC and total beauty growth, and, even more importantly, laying the groundwork to deliver significant growth to both our top and bottom lines. I am confident that the improvements we have made to our site, the extensive testing we conducted on new product offerings, and the important investments we made this year position us for a strong 2011," Lepore said.

Looking ahead, Drugstore.com disclosed a net sales range of $123 million to $126 million.

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HHS secretary announced $750 million investment in prevention, public health

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday announced a $750 million investment in prevention and public health, funded through the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the new healthcare law.

“Prevention is something that can’t just happen in a doctor’s office,” Sebelius said. “If we are to address the big health issues of our time, from physical inactivity to poor nutrition to tobacco use, it needs to happen in local communities.”

Building on $500 million in investments last year, the new dollars are being earmarked to help prevent tobacco use, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and cancer; increase immunizations; and empower local communities with tools and resources to fund their own health initiatives.

Specific initiatives include:

  • Community Prevention ($298 million): These funds will be used to help promote health and wellness in local communities;

  • Clinical Prevention ($182 million): These funds will help improve access to preventive care, including increasing awareness of the new prevention benefits provided under the new healthcare law. They also will help increase availability and use of immunizations, and help integrate behavioral health services into primary care settings, HHS stated;

  • Public Health Infrastructure ($137 million): Rhese funds will help state and local health departments meet today’s challenges, including investments in information technology and training for the public health workforce to enable detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks and other health threats; and

  • Research and Tracking ($133 million), these funds will help collect data to monitor the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the health of Americans and identify and disseminate evidence-based recommendations on important public health challenges.

For more information about the FY2011 Prevention and Public Health Fund investments, click here.

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