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Study encourages mothers to get whooping cough vaccine

BY Alaric DeArment

New York New mothers should receive vaccines to protect themselves and their babies against whooping cough, according to a new study.

The study appeared in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology Wednesday.The disease, also known as pertussis, has recently become more common and can sometimes be deadly. Between 2004 and 2005, 66 babies younger than 1 died from the disease, according to published reports. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of whooping cough increased from a little more than 2,000 in 1977 to more than 10,400 in 2007. 

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Staedtler introduces watercolor markers and anti-break pencils

BY Melissa Valliant

Chatsworth, Calif. Writing instrument manufacturer Staedtler recently unveiled a new product, as well as an added technology to their Noris Club colored pencil line.

The new product, Marsgraphic Jr. Brush Markers, act as watercolor paintbrushes but without the mess.  The acid-free, AP-approved brushes create watercolor strokes when used with water and can be applied to both fabrics and paper. Suggested retail price for a 12-pack is $19.99.

Noris Club colored pencils are now built with Staedtler’s new Anti-Break-System. The entire stick of lead is surrounded by a white protective structure, increasing the pencil’s strength by up to 30%.

“The principle of this protective coating follows a clever example from nature,” said Monica Kapadia, Staedtler’s product manager. “Just like a bamboo cane, the white protective coating protects the lead core from the outside, strengthening the bond between the lead and wood in the pencil. The advantages are obvious: pencils with A-B-S do not break as quickly, don’t have to be re-sharpened as often and thus have a longer lifespan which ultimately benefits our environment as well.”

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McKesson scrambles Canadian market with buyout bid for Uniprix drug group

BY Jim Frederick

SAN FRANCISCO The planned takeover of Quebec’s Uniprix drug store group by drug distribution and health services giant McKesson Corp. would add new muscle to McKesson’s aggressive bid for more of Canada’s pharmacy market and scramble the competitive landscape for rivals Shoppers Drug Mart, Jean Coutu Group and Katz Group Canada.

McKesson revealed Monday its offer to buy Uniprix Inc., which owns the Uniprix, Unipharm and Uniclinique store banners and comprises Quebec’s second-largest drug store group. The deal, which is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, would add some 400 independent drug stores in Quebec that are serviced by Uniprix to McKesson’s fast-growing distribution network in Canada, and pose new challenges to Katz, Jean Coutu and Shoppers.

Under terms of McKesson’s offer, pharmacy owners under the Uniprix service umbrella would retain ownership in their stores. “McKesson Canada is enthusiastic about the prospect of this transaction, which will strengthen our longstanding business relationship with the Uniprix Group for the distribution of pharmaceutical products, over-the-counter medications and consumer products,” said McKesson Canada president Domenic Pilla yesterday. “We believe that if our offer is supported by the shareholders and approved by the regulatory bodies it will benefit the Uniprix Group’s independent member-pharmacists through enhanced product and service offerings to customers, while bringing increased financial flexibility to the banners and sustaining its network of independent pharmacy owners.”

Noting the nearly three-decade business relationship between the two companies, Uniprix president and CEO Francois Castonguay endorsed the merger, calling it “a natural partnership.”

The purchase of Uniprix would be the second major acquisition for McKesson Canada in recent months. Last June, the company bought Quebec-based Groupe PharmEssor, which serviced some 270 independent drug stores under the Proxim and ProxiMed banners.

McKesson now supplies pharmaceuticals and other products to 6,300 retail pharmacies in Canada, as well as 1,350 hospitals, long-term care centers and other institutions in the country. The company also provides automation services for some 2,500 retail pharmacies, according to a McKesson report.

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