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Zon Fitness featured at Rite Aid

BY Michael Johnsen

LINGLESTOWN, Pa. — The Rite Aid here in Linglestown, Pa. now features eight linear feet of get-fit products just outside of its GNC store-within-a-store space. The set features Zon Fitness’ products almost exclusively, from resistance tubes and ankle/wrist weights to balance boards and training balls. Retail pricing ranges from $4.99 to $34.99, with most products available for less than $20. If successful, the set might further establish pharmacy as the comprehensive destination point for all elements involving health.

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Retail sales virtually unchanged for August

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — Retail sales for the month of August were flat, the U.S. Census Bureau disclosed on Wednesday.

Adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, sales totaled $389.5 billion. Compared with the year-ago period, however, sales rose 7.2%. Trade sales edged up slightly by 0.1% from July, as well as 7.5% above August 2010.

Adjusted grocery store sales rose from $46.3 million in July to $46.5 million August, the government agency said, while health and personal care stores increased 0.2% to nearly $23 million.

Although advanced estimates for pharmacies and drug stores are not included in the report, the Census Bureau disclosed that adjusted sales decreased from June to July, dropping from about $19.1 million to $19.07 million.

Commenting on the results, the National Retail Federation said that stalled consumer spending indicated signs of fatigue and also reflected August employment figures.

“Consumer spending in August was tempered by a continued lack of confidence in the strength of our economy,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Having carried the brunt of the economic recovery so far, consumers may be waiting for good news in terms of employment and market stability, cautiously spending on things they need and thinking twice about things they want.”

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Merck responds to Gardasil criticism

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Attacks on a human papillomavirus vaccine made amid an increasingly caustic Republican presidential primary battle have drawn a response from the manufacturer.

During a CNN/Tea Party Express debate in Tampa, Fla., Monday night, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry for signing a 2007 executive order mandating that girls be vaccinated against HPV with Merck & Co.’s Gardasil (Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent [Types 6, 11, 16 and 18] Vaccine, Recombinant). Following the debate, Bachmann told "Fox News" that a woman had approached her and said the vaccine had caused "mental retardation" in her young daughter.

Bachmann did not support the claim with scientific evidence, and no studies have linked Gardasil with mental retardation. HPV causes genital warts and also can cause cancer, particularly cervical cancer, which about 12,000 women in the United States develop each year, according to Merck.

"The facts about Gardasil are clear," read a statement released by Merck on Tuesday that did not directly reference the debate or either of the candidates. "The efficacy and safety of Gardasil was established in clinical trials in thousands of patients. Since its approval in 2006, the vaccine has been given to millions of girls around the world. Merck remains strongly committed to preventing cervical cancer."

Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics offered a more direct response.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation," AAP president O. Marion Burton said. "There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record."

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