HEALTH

Magnacca, CHPA discuss OTC’s role

BY Michael Johnsen

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — Two weeks before the Food and Drug Administration met on expanding the switch paradigm, attendees of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association’s Annual Executive Conference discussed how over-the-counter medicines can help shape health care as part of a panel featuring Joe Magnacca, Walgreens president of daily living products and solutions.

Walgreens has been a prominent architect in re-engineering the retail pharmacy experience in the past year through its flagship stores in New York and Chicago. A key piece of that is increasing customer/pharmacist engagement over all health topics. “We do everything we can to allow the pharmacist to practice at the highest level of their degree,” Magnacca said.

That’s the potential game changer for the self-care space: to recast retail pharmacy as a destination for health-and-wellness solutions on top of its role in supplying acute care remedies and servicing as a prescription depot.

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E-cigarettes billow their way into retail

BY Barbara White-Sax

Electronic cigarettes, sometimes called personal vaporizers, are making their way into the drug channel. As tobacco smoking in public is steadily becoming a thing of the past, smokers are looking for alternatives, and more retail channels are carrying the products.

Rite Aid has begun to carry several models of electronic cigarettes, replacement batteries and replacement cartridges, and is merchandising the products at the checkout near tobacco products.

The devices, frequently designed to look like traditional cigarettes, work by delivering nicotine in a tobacco-free vapor that’s inhaled. Most devices contain three parts: a battery, often with an LED on the end that lights up to simulate traditional smoking; a heating element; and a cartridge containing a liquid nicotine mixture that, when heated, turns into a vapor that is inhaled.

Since the devices don’t use tobacco, users aren’t exposed to the toxins present in traditional tobacco smoke. The vapor emitted from e-cigs is virtually odorless, so consumers can use them in public settings where traditional smoking is prohibited.

Electronic cigarettes come in both rechargeable and disposable models. Rechargeables come in starter kits, which include the rechargeable device and a number of pre-filled nicotine cartridges that are inserted into the device. Additional cartridges are available in varying nicotine levels; some come in different flavors. Starter kits range in price, retailing anywhere from $30 for a basic starter product to $250 for a top-of-the-line kit.

Disposable products are available in a number of styles and are categorized by “puff count” or the average number of puffs the device delivers before it needs to be replaced. Disposables are less expensive, retailing for between $9 and $30.

Vapor Corp., which markets the Krave, Fifty-One, Trio and GreenPuffer brands, recently added a line of zero nicotine e-cigs in 10 different flavors under its VaporX brand. Vapor Corp. boasts the largest and most complete lineup of electronic cigarette products across its brands, including rechargeable batteries, chargers, carrying cases and replacement cartridges, available in an array of strengths in various flavors. 

“Our electronic cigarette refills are all-in-one atomized filters or ‘cartomizers’ that include a built-in atomizer within each cartridge,” said Adam Frija, director of business development at Vapor Corp.

Frija said the company can create customized program for retailers and has rolled out an in-store marketing program that includes door clings and in-store signage, as well as product display units and promotional videos that help consumers understand how the products work.

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CDC tracking influenza strain that especially could impact children under 10 years old

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — Children under the age of 10 years old may be especially susceptible to a new strain of influenza, according to an article published Friday in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report."

As many as 12 infections with influenza A (H3N2)v, a variant virus with genes from avian, swine and human strains, that had been crossed with an influenza A (H1N1) strain have been tracked since August. Eleven of those cases occurred in children under the age of 10 years. And in six cases, no history of recent exposure to swine was noted, suggesting that human-to-human transmission had occurred.

The CDC conducted a preliminary analysis to evaluate the age-specific presence of serum cross-reactive antibody in U.S. populations vaccinated or not vaccinated with the 2010-2011 seasonal trivalent influenza vaccine. The results indicated that little or no cross-reactive antibody to A (H3N2)v exists among children under 10 years; that the 2010-2011 influenza vaccine had no impact on cross-reactive antibody levels in those under the age of 3 years; cross-reactive antibody was detected in 20% to 30% of those over 10 years old; and, among adults, vaccination with the 2010-2011 influenza vaccine provided a modest boost to the level of cross-reactive A (H3N2)v antibodies.

Receipt of seasonal influenza vaccine continues to be recommended to protect against circulating human influenza viruses for all age groups and might provide limited protection against A (H3N2)v infection in the adult population. A vaccine virus specific for A (H3N2)v has been developed and could be used to produce an H3N2v vaccine, if needed, the CDC reported.

Human infections with influenza A (H3N2)v were reported with increased frequency in 2011 compared with previous years, however enhanced surveillance might be a contributing factor, noted MMWR editors.

The composition of the 2011-2012 seasonal triumvirate vaccine is identical to the 2010-2011 vaccine evaluated in this report and is expected to provide limited cross-protection from A (H3N2)v in adults and no cross-protection in young children. In the event of sustained human-to-human transmission of (H3N2)v, an A (H3N2)v-specific vaccine would provide optimal protection for all ages. An A (H3N2)v reassortant vaccine strain based on the A/Minnesota/11/2010 virus has been developed and could be used to produce an H3N2v vaccine, if needed.

Updated information and guidance documents related to A (H3N2)v viruses are available online from CDC here.

 


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