Walgreens visionary Vern Brunner loses cancer battle
It was easy to like Vern Brunner.
As Walgreens’ top merchant, and leader of a whole team of talented merchandising strategists and category managers, Brunner was a driving force behind the giant company’s surge to retail excellence in the 1980s and 1990s. For two decades, it was his job to weave together all the suppliers, product display ideas, planogram and section designs, inventory cost considerations, forecasting tools, advertising campaigns and creative ideas that propelled Walgreens’ incredible long-term success at the front end of the store.
Given that success, it was inevitable that Brunner would also emerge as one of retail pharmacy’s most powerful behind-the-scenes decision-makers. Like Jim Mastrian of Rite Aid and Revco, he was perhaps one of the last of a talented breed of high-profile merchandising giants – leaders whose intuitive ability to anticipate consumers’ wants and needs led them to single-handedly put a personal stamp on the way a big retailer presented itself to America.
Brunner came to his job after decades of paying his dues, and he was well prepared to become Walgreens’ executive VP marketing. He was smart – Evans Scholar at the University of Wisconsin, savvy contract negotiator with suppliers – and understood the professional side of drug store retailing as well, having begun his career as a Walgreens pharmacist in 1963. Brunner also knew the store operations side of the business inside and out after serving as a store and district manager.
Despite his outsized impact on drug store retailing, however, the man’s ego never grew to the same proportions. He remained a down-to-earth, plain-spoken Midwesterner with a friendly nature, an easy sense of humor and a self-deprecating wit.
It was easy to like Vern Brunner.
Astellas Pharma introduces new formulation of Vaprisol
DEERFIELD, Ill. Astellas Pharma US announced this week the introduction of a new formulation of a drug for treating hyponatremia.
The Tokyo-based drug maker introduced Vaprisol (conivaptan hydrochloride injection) Premixed in 5% Dextrose, a new premixed formulation. The Food and Drug Administration originally approved the drug in October.
“It is imperative to promptly address hyponatremia in emergency and hospital settings,” Georgetown University medicine and physiology professor Joseph Verbalis said in a statement. “Vaprisol Premixed in 5% Dextrose is a convenient option for quickly preparing treatment for hyponatremia patients.”
Hyponatremia is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s blood sodium level falls significantly below normal. It is present in about 28% of patients upon admission into acute hospital care, and another 14% acquire it while in acute care. It can result in swelling of the brain, respiratory arrest, catastrophic brain damage and death.
Diabetes drug makers experience stock jump
NEW YORK Shares of two large drug makers focused on diabetes increased Wednesday afternoon despite declines in the drug industry as a whole, according to published reports.
The Amex Pharmaceutical Index and Amex Biotechnology Index fell, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased after a fall earlier in the day.
Meanwhile, however, shares of Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk and San Diego-based drug maker Amylin Pharmaceuticals increased respectively by 4%, to $49.95, and 3%, to $12.12.
Amylin had released a study earlier in the week showing that a long-acting formulation of the diabetes drug Byetta (exenatide) that has not yet been launched outperformed Merck & Co.’s Januvia (sitagliptin) and Takeda’s Actos (pioglitazone hydrochloride) in patients with Type 2 diabetes.