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New survey finds affluent consumers drive economic recovery

BY Allison Cerra

BOSTON A new consumer study underscored the role affluent consumers play in driving the economy toward recovery.

Consulting firm L.E.K.’s consumer sentiment survey polled 2,000 U.S. households in April and found that more than one-third (39%) of affluent consumers — those households making more than $150,000 annually — believed their spending was either not impacted materially by the recession or already has returned to pre-recession spending levels, making them drivers in the economic recovery. The general population is significantly more cautious, with only 12% expecting their personal finances to improve by fall 2010, while 65% don’t anticipate that their finances will rebound significantly for the next 12 to 24 months.

According to the L.E.K. research, the affluent consumer is the only demographic that is spending more today than before the recession, and is the only group planning more purchases (expected 3.5% increase) in the near future. Furthermore, affluent consumers are more likely to purchase organic and natural food, “green” products and selectively splurge on higher-end brands, hence driving those retail categories to grow.

“L.E.K.’s survey findings show that wealthy consumer spending is outpacing the general public significantly and appears to be literally pulling the United States out of its recession,” said Andrew Rees, VP and head of the L.E.K. consulting retail practice. “The distinct affluent demographic underscores why retailers need to truly understand what motivates each customer type. Deep customer segmentation will give retailers the insight to chart a clear course despite hazy market conditions.”

Click here to learn more about L.E.K.’s CSS.

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MannKind: Afrezza works just as effectively as competing diabetes drugs in trial

BY Alaric DeArment

VALENCIA, Calif. An investigational insulin made by MannKind works at least as well in patients with Type 1 diabetes as the standard therapy, MannKind said Thursday.

The drug maker said a 16-week clinical trial showed that the fast-acting inhaled mealtime insulin Afrezza (insulin human [rDNA origin]) combined with basal insulin worked as well as Eli Lilly’s injectable Humalog (insulin lispro [rDNA origin]). In addition, MannKind said, patients taking Afrezza showed lower rates of hypoglycemia – or low blood sugar – in after-meal and fasting blood glucose levels than those taking Humalog.

“Effectively controlling blood sugar levels and managing hypoglycemic events go hand in hand as key to successfully treating patients with Type 1 diabetes,” lead study investigator and University of Colorado medical professor Satish Garg said. “Our findings demonstrate that Afrezza may offer a significant advance from current mealtime insulin delivery methods, as it is comparable to the standard of care in glycemic control and provides the additional benefit of lower hypoglycemia rates.”

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Bayer HealthCare: Betaferon’s safety record proven in follow-up trial

BY Alaric DeArment

BERLIN German drug maker Bayer HealthCare said a 16-year follow-up to a clinical trial of one of its multiple sclerosis drugs supported the drug’s safety record.

Bayer said results of the follow-up study for Betaferon (interferon-beta-1b), published Tuesday in the journal Neurology, revealed no new or unexpected harmful side effects emerging with long-term therapy, while observed side effects related to the drug decreased over time. The drug is marketed in the United States and Canada as Betaseron.

“These data confirm that Betaferon has a favorable safety and tolerability profile,” lead study author and University of Chicago neurology professor Anthony Reder said. “Over the years, healthcare professionals have been able to greatly reduce treatment-related adverse events and increase patients’ adherence to Betaferon therapy with dose escalation at initiation of therapy and the routine use of an autoinjector and co-medication with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.”

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