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U.S. Census Bureau: November retail sales positively impacted

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON A glimmer of hope for the holiday season: The U.S. Census Bureau announced Friday that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for November were $352.1 billion, an increase of 1.3% from the previous month, and a 1.9% increase from the year-ago period.

The estimates were adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences but not for price changes.

Meanwhile, total sales for the September through November 2009 period were down 2.1% from the same period a year ago. The September to October 2009 percent change was revised from +1.4% to +1.1%.

Additonally, retail trade sales were positively impacted with 1.4% increase from October and 2.2% above last year.

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Centric Health Resources receives URAC accreditation

BY Alaric DeArment

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. Healthcare-accrediting organization URAC has awarded specialty pharmacy accreditation to Centric Health Resources, Centric announced.

Centric, which calls itself a “patient-centric health management organization,” uses a direct-distribution model to narrow the gap between drug makers, providers, payers and patients with rare and chronic genetic disorders.

“Receiving this accreditation is important in that it provides a comprehensive strategy for creating standards that address the broad scope of pharmacy benefit management practice,” Centric VP quality assurance Doug Carlson said in a statement. “Centric will now have an opportunity to align its quality practices with industry-recognized standards and further demonstrate our commitment to quality.”

URAC based its accreditation on criteria developed by its pharmacy advisory committee, which includes representatives from retail pharmacy, pharmacy benefit management, employers, consumers, health plans and others.

“By applying for and receiving the specialty pharmacy accreditation, Centric has demonstrated a commitment to quality health care,” URAC president and CEO Alan Spielman said. “Quality health care is crucial to our naiton’s welfare,  and it is important to have organizations that are willing to measure themselves against national standards.”

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New lighting product standard provides clarity for consumers

BY Allison Cerra

ST. LOUIS, Mo. Energizer announced Dec. 8 that the Flashlight Standards Committee has developed a set of flashlight features and benefits standards for consumers seeking information on such products.

Until now, there has been no consistency in how flashlight features and benefits were presented; consumers might see a flashlight that claims light output of  “3,000,000 candlepower” next to one that claims “40 lumens.” For the average consumer, these inconsistencies led to confusion and an inability to compare one product with another. The Flashlight Standards Committee published an American National Standards Institute standard, designed to help the consumer. The FL1 standard addressed six performance measurements to improve consistency and clarity for flashlight consumers.

“Consumers and the trade have been left in the dark to figure out the difference between candlepower, candela and lumens, among other inconsistent flashlight claims, which left everyone guessing about how to compare one light to another,” said Peter Nario-Redmond, technical marketing manager for Energizer and chairman of the Flashlight Standards Committee. “The goal for establishing standard measurement is to eliminate confusion and clearly communicate the features of flashlights so that consumers can make informed decisions about which product best suits their needs.”

The ANSI/NEMA FL1 – 2009 flashlight basic performance standard establishes consistent processes and definitions for reporting the following six areas of flashlight performance measurement, as well as simple icons to be printed clearly on packaging:

  • Light Output – the light projected from a flashlight will be expressed in units of lumens
  • Runtime – duration the light will operate continuously until projected light is dim
  • Beam Distance – distance the light projects onto a surface
  • Peak Beam Intensity – intensity of the projected light that does not vary with distance and expressed in units of candela 
  • Water Penetration Rating – clear definitions outlined about the difference between water-resistant, waterproof and submersible
  • Impact Resistance – after six drop tests, the flashlight must maintain all previous established measures

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