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Vern had some something special

BY Rob Eder

“Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”—Jim Valvano, former head coach, North Carolina State Men’s Basketball (1983 NCAA Champions)

They say you learn something new every day. I have never found that to be true in itself. You have to work at it, or at least be open to the learning; you have to be the kind of person who is content in the journey of discovery. If you are, not only will you learn a lot in your lifetime, but man, will you have fun doing it.

I am not going to pretend that I knew Vern Brunner very well. But I can tell you that Vern was the kind of guy who was content to be on that constant journey of discovery. That comes through loud and clear in the comments we received from our readers in the days that followed Vern’s passing—friends, colleagues, business partners and competitors alike. With Vern, it was a coin-flip as to which was bigger, his heart or his mind. You didn’t have to know Vern that well to know that both were huge.

I chose the quote from Jim Valvano for a couple of reasons. First, when Vern took the stage at last year’s NACDS Annual Meeting and accepted the Begley Award, I was instantly reminded of Valvano’s speech at the very first ESPY Awards in 1993. (For those unfamiliar with the ESPYs, it is the Oscars of the sporting world.) Not because of anything that Vern said, rather, it was the courage of the man in the moment, and the fact that in many ways, Vern seemed to me the physical embodiment of many of the things Jim Valvano said nearly 15 years before.

Basically, Jimmy V. left the audience that night with his philosophy of what constitutes a full life. Every day you should do three things: you should laugh, you should spend some time in deep thought and you should have your emotions moved to tears, whether out of happiness or joy. “That’s a full day,” Valvano said. “You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

There is no doubt that Vern had something special. And anyone who knew him had something special, too—they had Vern.

I won’t pretend that I knew Vern Brunner very well. But I wish that I had.

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Kroger to serve as exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA Kroger will serve as the exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09, an outdoor Cinco de Mayo festival celebrating Latino culture, music and food.

Fiesta Atlanta ’09 takes place on Sunday, May 3 at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. For Kroger, the partnership represents the company’s commitment to the Hispanic community.

“We are very excited and looking forward to Fiesta Atlanta,” said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for Kroger’s Atlanta Division. “Kroger has always made exceptional efforts to serve the Hispanic community and joining this celebration is another commitment to our Hispanic customers.”

Atlanta’s largest Hispanic outdoor family festival, Fiesta Atlanta attracted over 40,000 attendees last year. This year’s event will once again feature authentic food from many Latin-American countries, arts and crafts, sponsor displays with many free product samples and continuous live musical performances by national and local recording artists.

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AARP cites big jump in Rx prices

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK A report by AARP indicated that prices for branded drugs have increased at a rate outpacing the rate of inflation by more than six percentage points.

 

The report found that manufacturers’ prices for branded drugs increased by 9% last year, compared with the general inflation rate of 3.8%. Meanwhile, prices of generic drugs decreased, on average, by 10.6%.

 

 

Generic drugs have already grown significantly over the years, accounting for 69% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States, but 16% of money spent on prescriptions, according to IMS Health. In 2007, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the average price of a generic prescription drug was $34.34, compared to $119.51 for a branded drug.

 

 

Price increases for branded drugs significantly higher than the overall rate of inflation, mixed with the recession, are likely to drive more consumers to generics. According to AARP, nearly a quarter of all older Americans skip medication doses because of the cost, while other studies have shown that many Americans facing economic hardship don’t have prescriptions filled at all.

 

 

At the same time, many branded pharmaceutical drugs – not to mention biologics – don’t yet have a generic version. This could create difficulties for elderly and other patients who may be able switch to medications that are cheaper, but different from what they take, or who take biologic drugs or newer drugs that have no equivalent on the market.

 

 

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association said the report indicated that generic medicines are “the right choice for better health.”

 

 

“During these difficult economic times, it is truly disturbing to hear reports that our nation’s seniors cannot afford their prescription drug costs,” GPhA president and CEO Kathleen Jaeger said in a statement responding to the report. “No one should be forced to choose between putting food on their table and paying for needed medicines.”

 

 

Jaeger also said the report illustrated the need for a regulatory pathway for biosimilars.

 

 

“It’s time to do right by our seniors and all Americans struggling with healthcare costs by approving legislation that brings safe, effective and affordable biogeneric medicines to patients sooner rather than later,” Jaeger said. “GPhA also strongly believes that increasing funding for FDA would ensure the more timely approval of generic medicines, increasing the opportunity for consumers to save immediately.”

 

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