HEALTH

Report: Severe flu expected to drive increased pharmacy trips, same-store sales

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — The rocketing incidence of flu has been characterized as the most severe in at least a decade, and it’s only going to get worse. Or better, depending upon your perspective. 

In conducting an analysis of regions currently reporting high levels of ILI activity and matching that up to the marketshare of the three largest drug store chains, Credit Suisse research analyst Ed Kelly determined that Walgreens is slightly more exposed. Kelly extrapolated that Walgreens is exposed to 9,249 geography-weighted average flu incidence, followed by CVS/pharmacy at 9,096 and Rite Aid at 8.868.

"Flu activity heavily influences store traffic and sales in the winter months," Kelly wrote in a note published Wednesday morning. "Flu activity is off the charts so far this year. Flu activity per the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and Google flu trends looks to be the most severe in at least a decade, with the percentage of doctors’ visits for flu-related symptoms currently double to triple the normal rate in January."

And the trend is geographically widespread, he noted. Google flu trends has activity classified as "intense" in 33 states, high in 16 states and moderate in only one state. For the week ended Dec. 29, CDC reported that the national baseline in flu incidence has seen an uptick for the fourth consecutive week, having climbed sharply from 2.8% to 5.6% over the past four weeks. The CDC has 29 states and New York City now reporting high ILI activity, up from last week when 16 states reported high ILI activity. Additionally, 9 states reported moderate levels of ILI activity.

"Flu activity [is] a driver of drug store comps," Kelly said. "The flu clearly influences pharmacy sales, but also has some impact on the front-end given the impact on OTC sales, disinfectant supplies and overall traffic," he said. 

Since Oct. 1, 2012, CDC has antigenically characterized 413 influenza viruses, including 17 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses, 281 influenza A (H3N2) viruses and 115 influenza B viruses.

All 17 of the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses were characterized as A/California/7/2009-like. This is the influenza A (H1N1) component of the Northern Hemisphere vaccine for the 2012-2013 season.

Of the 281 influenza A (H3N2) viruses, 279 (99%) were characterized as A/Victoria/361/2011-like. This is the influenza A (H3N2) component of the Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine for the 2012-2013 season.

Approximately 69% of the 115 influenza B viruses belonged to the B/Yamagata lineage of viruses, and were characterized as B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like, the influenza B component for the 2012-2013 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine. The remaining 31% of the tested influenza B viruses belonged to the B/Victoria lineage of viruses. 


FOR MORE COVERAGE OF THE FLU EPIDEMIC CLICK HERE

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Jul-22-2013 02:59 am

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HEALTH

Walgreens promoting exclusive line of ‘natural’ dietary supplements

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens has begun promotion of its exclusive PureLife Naturals line of health supplements, a line launched in September in its weekly circulars. The line of active-ingredient formulas are blended without any artificial ingredients, colors or preservatives and ideal for the purity-conscious shopper.

 

"Shoppers are becoming savvy about what is and isn’t in their health supplement," noted PureLife. "With over half of U.S. adults taking supplements each month, the industry has had to adapt its offerings to meet discerning consumer demand and a dynamic market."

PureLife Naturals features 26 formulas including multi-vitamin supplements with an added fruit and vegetable-antioxidant boost that helps fight free radicals and a vitamin D3 supplement that comes in an easy dose liquid drop delivery system.

The PureLife Naturals line also encompasses a range of condition-specific supplements to help manage many health needs naturally, including blood glucose levels, immune support, joint health, increased energy, stress relief, sleep support, digestive health, brain and memory health and healthy aging. The company’s fish and krill oil softgels contain pure, sustainably harvested, wild-caught, cold water Alaskan fish oils.


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ERSP requests Casper Labs to tone down marketing message behind supplement Calmestra

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program on Tuesday recommended that Casper Labs modify or discontinue certain claims for Calmestra, a dietary supplement marketed as providing relief for symptoms of menopause, including claims that the product has been “clinically proven” to address symptoms of menopause.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, ERSP determined that the evidence did not support the establishment claims, exclusivity claims, claims pertaining to weight loss, and speed of action claims that were the focus of ERSP’s inquiry. ERSP recommended the marketer discontinue such claims.

ERSP further recommended that the advertiser discontinue claims that stating the product “produced dramatic improvements in pre-menopause, peri-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause as well as women who have had hysterectomies or ovarian problems including ovarian cancer,” as well as claims referencing puberty.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said it would “comply with ERSP and update our advertising materials accordingly prior to re-launching the marketing campaign.”

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP pursuant to its ongoing monitoring program.


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