HEALTH

Hand sanitizers become popular item given to employees, Advertising Specialty Institute says

BY Michael Johnsen

TREVOSE, Pa. The Advertising Specialty Institute on Wednesday announced that hand sanitizers now rival pens as one of the most popular logoed items that companies are giving away to clients and employees.

Searches of the key words “hand sanitizers” by promotional products distributors via the Advertising Specialty Institute’s promotional products database jumped 439% for the 12 months ended October 2009. Only searches for pens — which for years have been the best-selling logoed product in the promotional products industry — were higher over that period.

“Certainly, there’s been a dramatic increase in sales of sanitizer sprays, gels and other anti-bacterial products,” stated Larry Wilhelm, CEO of Custom HBC, one of the many suppliers of customized health and beauty care products for the promotional products field.

Sales of all logoed sanitizing products surged in early spring, and then again in September, at the start of flu season, Wilhelm said. Sales of flu-related items, like facial tissues, have also increased.

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FDA, health organizations to study safety of medications taken during pregnancy

BY Michael Johnsen

SILVER SPRING, Md. A new research program called the Medication Exposure in Pregnancy Risk Evaluation will fund research to study the effects of prescription medications used during pregnancy, the Food and Drug Administration announced last week.

The program is a collaboration among FDA and researchers at the HMO Research Network Center for Education and Research in Therapeutics, Kaiser Permanente’s multiple research centers and Vanderbilt University.

About two-thirds of women who deliver a baby have taken at least one prescription medication during pregnancy according to a journal article published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. There are very few clinical trials that test the safety of medications in pregnancy due to concerns about the health of the mother and child.

“This program is a great example of FDA and the private sector working together to improve the health of pregnant women and their children,” stated Margaret Hamburg, FDA commissioner. “These data will guide regulatory policy and influence medical practice.”

To overcome the challenges presented by the lack of clinical trial data about the use of medications during pregnancy, the research program will link healthcare information for mothers and their babies in each of the participating research sites. Collectively, the 11 participating sites have healthcare information for about 1 million births over the past seven years (2001-2007). Many of the mothers associated with these births likely used medication during their pregnancies and now, with the program in place, the FDA and participating researchers have a systematic and timely way of retrieving information from this network.

“This collaborative effort creates a unique resource to study the effects of medication in pregnant women and their children,” stated Gerald Dal Pan, director of the Office of Surveillance and Epidemiology at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Results of these studies will provide valuable information for patients and physicians when making decisions about medication during pregnancy.”

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Nutrition 21 completes sale of direct response, retail businesses to Nature’s Products

BY Michael Johnsen

PURCHASE, N.Y. Nutrition 21 on Tuesday announced that it has sold substantially all of the assets of its direct response and retail businesses to Nature’s Products, based in Sunrise, Fla. The purchase price was approximately $3.2 million, plus the assumption of designated liabilities.

“We entered into this transaction to focus our limited financial resources on our profitable ingredients business,” stated Michael Zeher, Nutrition 21 president and CEO.

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