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Disease from Down Under: New Australian norovirus strain responsible for most outbreaks in U.S., CDC says

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — A new strain of norovirus from Australia accounts for more than half of outbreaks around the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that the new strain of the virus, called GII.4 Sydney, was responsible for 53% of the 266 norovirus outbreaks reported through CaliciNet, an electronic laboratory surveillance network, between September and December 2012. The new strain emerged in Australia in March 2012. The other outbreaks resulted from other strains of the virus, including GII.4 New Orleans. The CDC noted that the new strain appears to have replaced GII.4 New Orleans, which had previously been the predominant strain.

Norovirus is a common cause of food poisoning and so-called stomach flu, causing gastroenteritis that leads to symptoms like nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. It can be spread through direct human contact or contaminated food. Most people recover in one or two days, but the virus can cause serious complications and death in young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.


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Minn. flu deaths more than double over last year

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The number of people who have died from flu in Minnesota is 75, more than double what it was last year, according to the state health department and published reports.

According to data released by the department, the third week of January — Jan. 13-19 — saw 15 people die from flu-related illness, bringing the total for the season to 75. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that 33 people died from flu last season, while 67 died during the 2009-2010 season, coinciding with the H1N1 pandemic.

During the third week, 208 people were hospitalized, bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 2,128, according to the state health department.


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ABC Q1 2013 revenue up 6%

BY Michael Johnsen

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. — AmerisourceBergen on Thursday reported revenue of $21.5 billion, up 5.7%, for the first quarter ended Dec. 31. “We are off to a solid start in our fiscal year 2013, with December quarter results in line with our expectations,” said Steven Collis, ABC president and CEO. “During the quarter, we successfully implemented our previously announced new contract with our largest customer, and we continued to make progress on the integration of World Courier. As we look ahead, we are well-positioned to meet our objectives for the year and to continue to have significant financial flexibility.”

Pharmaceutical distribution revenues totaled $21.1 billion, an increase of 5% compared to the same quarter in the prior year. The increase was credited primarily to an increase in sales volume resulting from the implementation of a new contract with the company’s largest customer, offset in part by the loss of a food and drug retail group purchasing organization. 

Despite the headwind of the lost customer, Collis was confident AmerisourceBergen would reach previously projected earning targets. “Looking ahead, [AmerisourceBergen] continues to expect diluted earnings per share from continuing operations in fiscal year 2013 to be in the range of $3.06 to $3.16,” Collis said. “Key assumptions supporting that range are: revenue growth in the 6% to 9% range; operating income growth in the 3% to 5% range; an operating margin decline in the high single- to low double-digit basis points range; and free cash flow in the range of $750 million to $850 million, which includes capital expenditures in the $180 million range. Subject to market conditions, we expect to spend approximately $400 million to repurchase our common shares in fiscal year 2013.”


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