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CDC: More than half of a projected 150 million-plus flu shots have been distributed to date

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — As of mid-August, seven influenza vaccine manufacturers projected that as many as 151 million to 159 million doses of influenza vaccine will be available for use in the United States during the 2014-2015 influenza season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted on a web page updated Friday.
 
"Some companies have communicated information to their customers about delays in shipments that had originally been anticipated for August and September," the agency reported. "Despite these early season shipping delays, however, manufacturers anticipate the majority of their flu vaccine distribution will occur by the end of October. While this is slightly later than vaccine was shipped last year, it is not an unusual pattern for seasonal flu vaccine distribution overall."
 
Since Sept. 26, 87.9 million doses had been distributed.
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CRN defends structure function claims in brief filed to U.S. Department of Justice

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Monday urged the U.S. District Court in New Jersey to hold the Federal Trade Commission to the flexible “competent and reliable scientific evidence” standard for review of dietary supplement advertising. In a brief filed Friday, CRN addressed a motion by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, with respect to Bayer Healthcare’s advertising claims for its probiotic supplement Phillips’ Colon Health. 

 
CRN’s brief argues that by requiring multiple randomized, placebo-controlled, and double-blind human clinical trials using the specific product for which the claims are made and are performed in the population at which the claims are directed, the FTC is invoking “a rigid standard for the substantiation of non-disease claims made about dietary supplements that is a significant departure from the current well-established, consistent and flexible federal regulatory regime upon which the entire dietary supplement industry has long relied.”
 
The brief further outlined the negative consequences that would come as a result of the government overreaching its authority, saying the change “would significantly impair the flow of truthful, valuable and scientifically sound information about dietary supplement products and limit consumers’ ability to make fully-informed nutrition-related decisions.” The standard of substantiation proposed by the FTC would impose drug-like requirements on dietary supplements that go far beyond what Congress intended and would effectively apply the medically-based, treatment-focused regulatory framework for drugs to dietary supplements. The evaluation of structure-function claims would essentially be treated the same as disease claims, which is contrary to the intent of the law.
 
“We are concerned that, if successful, FTC’s attempt to impose this legally-unprecedented review of advertising claims for supplements could eliminate many structure-function claims and disregard a wealth of rigorous scientific data that does not meet the narrow drug-like requirements," said Steve Mister, CRN president and CEO. "It would chill the First Amendment rights of manufacturers, marketers and consumers to communicate and to receive truthful information about the health benefits of these products.” 
 
 

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Sam’s Club guarantees low price on flu shots

BY Michael Johnsen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club on Monday announced that the flu shots for the 2014-15 flu season are now available to Sam’s Club members as well as the public at pharmacy locations nationwide. In an effort to encourage the public to get their seasonal flu shots, Sam’s Club is making vaccinations as affordable as possible by matching the price of any competitor with their low price promise. Accepting walk-ins and appointments, Sam’s Club will be offering the standard three strain trivalent flu shots, four-strain quadrivalent flu shots, or high-dose flu shots specifically designed for seniors 65 years and older.
 
Additionally, to help its small business members prepare for the flu season, Sam’s Club will also be providing in-office flu vaccinations to their employees, administered by a pharmacist, to help maintain a healthy and productive workforce. This service will be available in select locations.
 
“With the flu season approaching us, Sam’s Club wants to provide its communities with easy access and the most cost-efficient way to get vaccinated by offering the best price guaranteed,” said Jill Turner-Mitchael, SVP Sam’s Club health and wellness. “We hope through this offering and our pharmacists’ ability to provide patients with additional information on flu prevention we can help people take the right steps to stay healthy this flu season.” 
 
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