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Senate passes financial reforms, draws praise from retail industry

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. The Food Marketing Institute on Thursday praised the Senate for approving the Conference Report to H.R. 4173, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which will require the Federal Reserve to set “reasonable and proportional” interchange fees on debit card transactions.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill, the association reported.

“This is a long-fought victory for supermarkets and their customers across the country,” stated Leslie Sarasin, FMI president and CEO. “These fees represent the only completely uncontrollable cost for retailers. Supermarkets and their customers will see the benefits of a system of reasonable and proportional costs in a competitive and transparent marketplace.”

FMI expressed gratitude to the members of Congress who sponsored interchange fee legislation and advanced this measure, including the amendment’s author, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who also introduced the Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2009 (S. 1212), which empowers retailers to negotiate these and related fees with credit card companies and banks, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., and Reps. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., who introduced the companion legislation in the House as well as the Credit Card Interchange Fees Act.

According to FMI, consumers have been paying more than $50 billion a year in hidden interchange fees to credit card companies and banks. Interchange fees are collected by banks and credit card companies each time a consumer uses a credit or debit card to make a purchase. Since these fees are hidden, consumers are unaware of the costs associated with their cards, FMI added.

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‘Preschool is Cool: Counting with Elmo’ arrives on DVD this fall

BY Allison Cerra

BURBANK, Calif. Warner Home Video is bringing Sesame Street’s beloved resident, Elmo, to DVD.

“Preschool is Cool: Counting with Elmo” supports such early math skills as number recognition, counting and enumeration with the help of Elmo and his friends.

“Warner Home Video is very happy to introduce ‘Counting with Elmo, ‘our newest DVD title in Sesame Street’s new DVD set ‘Preschool is Cool,’” said Amit Desai, WHV VP family animation and partner brands marketing. “Counting is an essential tool that every preschooler must learn and there’s nobody better than the beloved Elmo and Professor Grover to show kids how fun and exciting numbers can be.”

“Preschool is Cool: Counting with Elmo” is available on DVD Sept. 14, for a suggested retail priceof $14.98.

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Keryx gets orphan-drug designation for neuroblastoma treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK The Food and Drug Administration has given special designation to an investigational treatment for a cancer of the nervous system that affects children.

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals announced Wednesday that it received orphan drug designation for KRX-0401 (perifosine), a treatment for neuroblastoma. No FDA-approved treatments exist for the disease.

The FDA gives orphan drug designation to investigational treatments for rare illnesses or those affecting fewer than 200,000 patients in the United States. The designation entitles the drug maker to seven years’ market exclusivity following approval, tax benefits and exemption from certain application filing fees.

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