HEALTH

Survey: 1-in-5 Americans got their flu shots at a retail pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Most Americans who reported getting a flu shot in the past season received that vaccination in their physician’s office. However, about 20% received their flu shot at a retail pharmacy and 12.6% at a walk-in clinic, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs poll released Friday. That suggests that as many as 18.5 million flu shots were administered to adults at retail pharmacy and another 11.7 million to adults at walk-in clinics. 

Other methods of flu prevention — washing hands (84%) and the use of hand sanitizer (68%), for example — were rated more effective than the flu vaccine (56%). Eating healthy in general (60%) or taking vitamins and supplements (53%) were also identified as popular flu-prevention strategies. Since perceived effectiveness of flu vaccination does not differentiate it from other ways of preventing the flu, some individuals may have relied on these alternatives to prevent flu instead of vaccination, Ipsos suggested. 

The majority of Americans believed the likelihood that they would be sidelined by the flu this season was unlikely — only one in three were concerned about catching the flu. As many as 16% of Americans thought that vaccines were not safe and slightly over a third of Americans thought that one can could catch flu from the flu shot. Vaccine safety and adverse effects concerns were most prominent in individuals across the highest income brackets of more than $150,000 per year. 

The overall vaccination rate was 40%, Ipsos reported, which is in accord with government statistics. An additional 5% reported they were still thinking about getting a flu shot as of mid-January. The vaccination rate reached 50% only among individuals 50 years of age and older. Interestingly, the vaccination rate of 18 to 24 year olds is higher than any other under 50 group, Ipsos noted, perhaps due to efforts to encourage vaccination on college campuses.

The Ipsos poll was conducted from Jan. 11-15, 2013. The sample comprised 1,096 Americans over 18 who were interviewed online.


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Perrigo acquires Velcera pet care company

BY Mike Troy

NEW YORK — Leading private-label supplier Perrigo has acquired pet health company Velcera for $160 million.

The deal follows last fall’s acquisition of Sergeants and signals Perrigo’s intent to accelerate growth in areas beyond its traditional businesses of consumer health care, nutrition products and prescriptions. Velcera is a pet health company best known for its PetArmor brand of flea and tick products that are widely available at retailers nationwide, much to the chagrin of veterinarians. PetArmor had sales of $60 million last year.

"We are very pleased to take this next step in expanding our companion animal healthcare business," said Perrigo chairman and CEO Joseph Papa. "Velcera’s product mix represents a natural extension to the Sergeant’s portfolio we acquired last October. The PetArmor franchise will accelerate our strategy to deliver compelling value to both our retail customers and American consumers. Additionally, we see an excellent opportunity to leverage our existing commercial, manufacturing and distribution capabilities, and our customer base, as we aim to make quality, affordable pet care products available to consumers everywhere."

Perrigo announced the acquisition in conjunction with the release of record results for the second quarter ended December 29, and the affirmation of its full year profit forecast. Perrigo expects fiscal 2013 reported earnings to be between $4.73 and $4.93 per share compared to $4.18 in fiscal 2012. On an adjusted basis to exclude some charges, the company expects profits to range from $5.45 and $5.65 per share compared to $4.99 in fiscal 2012.

"Once again, the strength of our diversified business model was evident this quarter," Papa said. "Our consumer healthcare manufacturing operations are producing higher volumes and are operating more efficiently than at any time in our history. We expect further growth in store brand market penetration and strong new product launches, resulting in significant savings to consumers with quality, affordable healthcare products."


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Supplement may reduce gestational diabetes risk in some women, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — A nutritional supplement may help ward off gestational diabetes in pregnant women, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by researchers at Italy’s University of Messina and published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that pregnant women with family histories of Type 2 diabetes who received myo-inositol saw a significant reduction in the incidence of gestational diabetes, a condition that causes high blood sugar in some pregnant women.

A group of 220 women was split into two halves, one of which received the supplement with 200 micrograms of folic acid twice per day, and a placebo group that only received the folic acid.

Among those who received myo-inositol, the incidence of gestational diabetes was 6%, compared with 15.3% of those in the placebo group. The researchers concluded that the supplement may reduce the incidence of gestational diabetes in women with a family history of Type 2 diabetes while also possibly reducing the risk of delivering abnormally large babies, also known as macrosomia.


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