CDC, Reckitt Benckiser develop site to promote good health, hygiene

NEW YORK On the surface, this news highlights how serious the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention take that “prevention” piece of their title. The fact of the matter is the novel H1N1 influenza pandemic, the virus that ran rampant in the spring, giving the United States a little taste of what could come, will be the top billing this coming cough-cold-flu season. To date, the virus has not mutated in the past few months as it ran its course through the influenza season of the southern hemisphere, which means that Americans can expect more of the same here — an influenza strain that produces illness severity comparable to the seasonal flu but that favors younger people because they have no antibodies in reserve against this novel H1N1 virus.

Younger people not only means the twenty- and thirtysomethings in the workforce, it also means their school-age children. And given that children are oftentimes blamed for spreading colds and flu in a typical year, it only goes to reason that children may be a good spreader of the H1N1 pandemic virus, too. With this partnership, the CDC is making a robust effort in educating both children and their parents in proper cold/flu etiquette, because the cheapest way to nip this bug from the get-go is to inhibit its spread.

Going one level deeper, it also shows how quickly today’s administration will turn to private business in an attempt “to get things done.” The assumption here is that it’s not the CDC putting up the funds to launch this Web site, but Reckitt Benckiser. And in turn, Reckitt Benckiser gets a very credible driver around its Lysol disinfectant brand.

That bodes well for retail pharmacy and the healthcare companies that supply them. Because it bears a recognition what the private sector brings to the table — ready access to consumers who may be more apt to pay attention when the credibility of government agencies like CDC is married to the credibility associated with a venerable brand. Today it’s Reckitt Benckiser’s Lysol. Tomorrow it could very well be CVS or Walgreens.

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