HEALTH

DSN Flu Report UPDATE: OTC sales spike as flu travels West

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — This year is turning out to be a strong cough and cold season even though there are more flu shots being administered at retail, and those flu shots are a pretty good match to the popular strains this year — 99.4% of the H3N2 influenza viruses tested matched one of the three components of the 2012 to 2013 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine. Overall, for the four weeks ending Dec. 30, sales of remedies for sore throats and cough syrups were up 12.5% and 26.2%, respectively, according to SymphonyIRI Group data as measured across all channels. 

And the flu season was still a week or two away from peaking in the East and making its way to the West at that time. 

Last year there was an idea tossed around that retail pharmacy was doing such a good job promoting their influenza vaccine offerings that they inoculated themselves out of selling cold and flu remedies to sick people. Sounds logical — the more vaccines that matches up well to the popular strain that are administered in a year, well, the fewer sick people you should have. 

Fortunately for retail pharmacy, the flu bug doesn’t know logic. Of course, what that really might suggest is that there is still a lofty ceiling with plenty of room to drive the number of flu shots higher without ever materially impacting sales of cold medicines and supplies, even in a year when the flu shot matches up well to the popular flu bug. 

And that means in a particularly virulent flu season, strong sales of cold and flu remedies will ensue. That’s the kind of logic that retailers and cold remedy manufacturers like to hear. 

Sales of ancillary products are trending high as well. Hand sanitizer sales were up 15.4% in that four-week period, reaching $14.4 million. GoJo’s new Purell Advanced has grabbed 20% of the dollar share across the top three sanitizer brands, not including private label. Sales of thermometers were up 35.8% to $17.9 million, and old standby symptom relievers like chest rubs were up 16% to $10.9 million.

 

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Safeway secures 200,000 additional flu shots due to high demand

BY Michael Johnsen

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway on Wednesday shipped an additional 200,000 doses of flu vaccine to its pharmacies in the U.S.

"This additional quantity of flu vaccine will allow us to meet the needs of our customers to help them remain healthy this season," stated Darren Singer, SVP Pharmacy. "Our pharmacists administer the vaccine on a walk-in basis. The process is simple, convenient and affordable. We want all of our customers to have this protection."

To encourage customers to receive a flu vaccine and promote health and wellness, Safeway is giving each customer who receives a flu vaccine at a Safeway Pharmacy a coupon for 10% off their next grocery purchase.

 

 

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New Fiber One bars combine taste, nutrition

BY Alaric DeArment

MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills has introduced a new protein bar that it said was designed to satisfy cravings while being healthy.

The company announced the introduction of Fiber One Protein Bars, available in caramel nut and coconut almond flavors. The caramel nut bar contains seven grams of protein and 130 calories, while the coconut almond bar contains six grams of protein and 140 calories.

"At the start of the New Year, many Americans make resolutions to eat healthier, but it can be difficult to find smart options in the snack aisle that deliver on both nutrition and flavor," Fiber One associate marketing manager Katherine Zonino said. "It’s time to find a snack that truly satisfies. Fiber One Protein Bars deliver the taste you crave, but with the nutritional benefits of fiber and protein, making it easy to stay on track."

 

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