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Hepatitis C treatment gets fast-track designation from FDA

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. An investigational drug made by Pharmasset for treating hepatitis C will get expedited review from the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA gave fast-track designation to PSI-7977. The designation is meant to facilitate development and expedite review of a drug intended to treat a serious or life-threatening condition and demonstrates potential to address unmet medical needs.

Pharmasset recently completed dosing in a mid-stage clinical trial of the drug that combines it with Genentech’s Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a) plus Copegus (ribavirin) in chronically infected patients who have not received treatment. Following the current phase 2a trial, Pharmasset will start a 12-week phase 2b trial in fourth quarter 2010.

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Fisher-Price’s iconic record player returns to retail

BY Allison Cerra

SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. Fisher-Price’s iconic Music Box record player is returning to retail shelves after a 30-year absence.

The preschool toy features a classic wind-up mechanism that plays the records as they spin around the turntable. Each player comes complete with five individual records featuring 10 songs (two songs per record), and features a convenient compartment for storing the records and built-in handle for tunes on the go. Featured songs include: “Humpty Dumpty,” “Jack and Jill,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Farmer In the Dell,” “Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone,” “London Bridge,” “Camptown Races,” “Children’s Marching Song (This Old Man),” “Hickory Dickory Dock” and “Au Clair De La Lune.”

The record player will begin its rollout exclusively at Target stores nationwide.

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Economic downturn takes hold of Stater Bros.’ Q3 earnings

BY Allison Cerra

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. A regional supermarket chain experienced declines across the board during its third quarter ended June 27.

Consolidated sales for Stater Bros. dropped $28.6 million to $900 million in the third quarter after selling its Santee Dairies assets in the first quarter, the company said. Supermarket sales for the quarter also dropped $5.6 million, or 0.61%, compared with the same period of fiscal 2009. Additionally, same-store sales decreased 1.19%, or $10.8 million for the thirteen weeks ended June 27, compared with the third quarter 2009. Stater Bros. said its overall net income for the third quarter totaled $6 million compared, with $15.1 million in the year-ago period.

Jack Brown, Stater Bros. chairman, president and CEO, said the economic downturn impacted its customers’ budgets but said its customer loyalty has made it a successful business.

“A cornerstone of our business strategy is to retain their loyalty by providing them the best value possible which includes not only being competitive on price, but also providing our customers with unparalleled customer service. We are sacrificing gross profit in the short term in order to retain our customers in the long term,” Brown said. “We remain focused on controlling our operating cost while providing our customers with the hometown service they have come to expect and the low prices they need on each visit to their Stater Bros. supermarket.”

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