HEALTH

Walgreens Flu Index captures budding flu season by market

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill.  — The latest Walgreens Flu Index issued Thursday recorded sharp upticks in several U.S. markets, including those markets in Utah, Mississippi, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

The weekly Flu Index shows which populations are experiencing the most incidences of influenza each week based on Index methodology and does not measure actual levels or severity of flu activity, Walgreens noted. But with the ability to generate hyper-local data across most U.S. markets, the Flu Index is an online, interactive resource allowing anyone to search and find information regarding the most current state of influenza in their community.

For the week of Jan. 8, the top 10 markets as measured by flu activity were:

  1. Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas;
  2. Lafayette, La.;
  3. Lincoln & Hastings-Kearney, Neb.;
  4. Columbus-Tupelo-West Point-Houston, Miss.;
  5. Monterey – Salinas, Calif.;
  6. Oklahoma City;
  7. Salt Lake City;
  8. Honolulu;
  9. Puerto Rico; and
  10. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas.

The top 10 markets with the greatest flu activity gains were:

  1. Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas;
  2. Lafayette, La.;
  3. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.;
  4. Columbus-Tupelo-West Point-Houston, Miss.;
  5. Puerto Rico;
  6. Lincoln & Hastings-Kearney, Neb.;
  7. Columbia-Jefferson City, Mo.;
  8. Salt Lake City;
  9. Mobile, Ala.-Pensacola (Ft. Walton Beach), Fla.; and
  10. Bakersfield, Calif.

The Walgreens Flu Index is compiled using weekly retail prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza across Walgreens locations nationwide. The data is analyzed at state and geographic market levels to measure absolute impact and incremental change of antiviral medications on a per store average basis, and does not include markets in which Walgreens has fewer than 10 retail locations.

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HEALTH

Hydroxycut signs country music star Chris Lane as spokesman

BY Michael Johnsen

TORONTO — Iovate Health Sciences, owner of the Hydroxycut brand, on Wednesday announced the signing of country music star Chris Lane to represent the Hydroxycut family of weight management products.

"Chris is unique in the sense he is a former athlete turned musician, with both lifestyles requiring frequent travel and regular fitness training to maintain a great look and positive energy," stated Brian Cavanaugh, Iovate chief marketing officer. "Hydroxycut products are ideal for him to support his healthy lifestyle and perform at a level in which his fans have come to expect."

Lane continues to climb the country radio charts with his current single "For Her," which follows his breakout hit  "Fix" from his Big Loud Records debut album "Girl Problems." "Fix" has reached nearly 29 million streams on Spotify and over 7 million views on Vevo.
 
Lane will be featured in an integrated marketing campaign that combines print, digital and multiple social media platforms. Consumers will have the opportunity to interact and engage with him throughout the year via a multitude of special programs under the Hydroxycut brand that will connect with a broad range of audience groups.

Iovate has also has launched an all-new Hydroxycut App to help users easily track their weight loss journey, the company reported.

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CHPA, industry supports ‘Restoring Access to Medication Act’

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Consumer Healthcare Products Association on Wednesday applauded the introduction of bipartisan, bicameral legislation in the U.S. Congress that would restore the ability of consumers to use their tax-preferred flexible spending arrangements and health savings accounts to purchase over-the-counter medicines. The legislation, “Restoring Access to Medication Act (RAMA) of 2017” (H.R. 394 and S. 85), was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and in the U.S. House by Reps. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., and Ron Kind, D-Wis.

 “Americans are being asked to fund more of their healthcare expenses through higher deductibles and copays, so it’s more important than ever that cost-effective OTC medicines are treated the same as other eligible medical expenses in tax-preferred healthcare accounts,” stated Scott Melville, CHPA president and CEO. “Restoring OTC eligibility under FSAs and HSAs will help the more than 50 million consumers who use these accounts and who are looking to take greater ownership of their own health through responsible self-care.”

“For years, Kansans and folks across the country have used Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Savings Spending Accounts to help save and pay for over the counter medication. Unfortunately, President Obama’s healthcare law made use of these accounts more expensive and burdensome,” Jenkins reported. “This bipartisan legislation will repeal this tax so families and individuals can better manage their own healthcare expenses.”

“With cold and flu season in full swing many Wisconsinites are having to pay steep prices for over-the-counter medicines to treat their symptoms. The Restoring Access to Medication and Improving Health Savings Act will lower drug costs for Wisconsin families,” Kind added.

OTC medicine eligibility in tax-preferred accounts was removed in 2011 as one of the first-implemented provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Since that time, CHPA has been leading a broad national coalition – the Health Choices Coalition – advocating for restoration of this important consumer benefit. The HCC includes consumer advocates, policymakers, physicians, dentists, retailers, pharmacies, pharmacists, insurers, drug manufacturers and various employers.

Many Americans depend on OTC medicines as a first-line option for meeting family healthcare needs, and these medicines provide a safe, effective, affordable, and convenient means to alleviate the symptoms of minor to moderate ailments. More than 90% of Americans prefer to seek treatment with OTCs before seeing a healthcare provider, and nearly 90% of the physicians and pharmacists recommend that patients self-treat with OTC medicines before seeking physician care.

Self-care with OTCs helps reduce unnecessary doctor visits, reduce lost time from work, and provide a significant cost advantage for consumers. According to a study conducted by CHPA, OTCs save consumers and the healthcare system $102 billion each year, and for every dollar spent on OTC medications in the U.S., the healthcare system saves between $6 and $7.
 

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