DSN Flu Tracker: Illustrating the 2012-2013 season
There were more sick people cruising the cold relief aisles this year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu incidence peaked at 6.1% this season, making this season the most virulent since the 2007-2008 season — excepting the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, which was atypical.
With that in mind, sales of cough and cold medicines — or sales of just about anything else that had something to do with the flu, from hand sanitizers to flu shots — were through the roof.
To watch the DSN Flu Tracker slideshow, loaded with key data, including sales in core OTC cough-cold categories during the thick of cold and flu activity, visit click here.
Age, gender play significant role in VMS use
As many as 72% of consumers use vitamins and dietary supplements, according to an online survey of more than 900 AccentHealth viewers conducted in late 2012. Those most likely to report supplement use include women and all consumers over the age of 55 years. Almost 3-in-4 women surveyed supplement their diets (74%) vs. 65% of men, and 81% of consumers over 55 years reported supplementing vs. 72% of consumers between the ages of 35 years and 54 years.
"While pharmacists are reported as the primary source of information on OTCs, doctors are the ‘go-to’ on vitamins and dietary supplements," noted Sara Mawhinney, AccentHealth senior market research analyst. Two-in-5 survey participants reported that they were primarily given information about their supplements from their doctor, followed by 28% who received that information from a friend or relative, and 18% who researched their supplements online.
Notably, survey participants over the age of 55 years were more likely to seek multiple sources of dietary supplement information (33%) as compared with younger shoppers (25%).
There are other differences regarding how survey participants over 55 years got their supplement information. While physicians are the most commonly used resource, those ages 55 years and older are significantly more likely to use the Internet for information on vitamins as compared with younger shoppers. "Additionally, respondents ages 55-plus years are more likely than those younger to consult a doctor or pharmacist and read … magazines for vitamin information," Mawhinney said. Radio was the least-cited source for information — only 1% of consumers over 55 years identified the radio as an information source.
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CDC: Flu incidence drops to 2.8%
ATLANTA — The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness was 2.8% for the week ended Feb. 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday, a strong indicator that the 2012-2013 flu season is on its way out. Nevada, New Jersey and Vermont were still reporting high ILI activity; while 13 states and New York City reported moderate activity; 11 states reported low activity; and 23 states reported minimal activity.
CDC also reported that the cumulative rate of hospitalizations for the season came out to 34.2 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population. Of reported hospitalizations, more than 50% were among adults 65 years and older. The heavy prevalence of hospitalizations among seniors may be linked to the low effectiveness of the flu vaccine in that population this year. According to the "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report" published Friday, vaccine effectiveness this year was 9% for seniors.