HEALTH

Flu continues to rage across West, Southwest United States

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — The flu epidemic is in full swing in the West and across the Southwest, as just about every state west of the Mississippi through to California is in the red on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weekly FluView for the week ended Jan. 26. 

As expected, many of those living in areas with high influenza-like illness activity were visiting their local drug stores for symptomatic relief. Drug store front-end sales were up 7.4% for the four weeks ended Jan. 26, according to reports citing Nielsen data. 

The proportion of outpatient visits for ILI was 4.2%, representing a steady decline in flu incidence across the nation. However, 24 states along with New York City were still reporting high ILI activity and 13 states along with Washington, D.C. reported moderate activity. 

Nine states, primarily in the Southeast where flu incidence peaked a few weeks ago, reported minimal ILI activity. 


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Novartis recalls Triaminic Syrups and Theraflu Warming Relief Syrups

BY Michael Johnsen

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Novartis Consumer Health on Thursday voluntarily issued a recall of certain lots of Triaminic Syrups and Theraflu Warming Relief Syrups that were manufactured in the United States prior to Dec. 31, 2011. 

The full recall resulted from a faulty child-resistant feature of the bottle cap may not function properly, enabling the cap to be removed with the tamper-evident seal still in place.

To see the full listing of recalled products including Lot and NDC numbers, click here

"We are instructing consumers, our retail partners, and wholesalers to return the products for a full refund," Novartis stated.


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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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