HEALTH

GNC appoints new member to board

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH General Nutrition Centers on Friday named Michael Hines, a senior retailing industry executive, to its board of directors. Hines will also sit on the audit committee, serving as chairperson.

Hines was EVP and CFO of Dick’s Sporting Goods from 1995 to March 2007. From 1990 to 1995, he held management positions with Staples, most recently as VP finance.

As of Sept. 30, GNC has more than 6,700 locations, of which more than 5,300 retail locations were in the United States (including 919 franchise and 1,814 Rite Aid franchise store-within-a-store locations) and franchise operations in 47 international markets.

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Bayer Consumer Care introduces Citracal with heart-health formula

BY Michael Johnsen

MORRISTOWN, N.J. Bayer Consumer Care on Wednesday announced the introduction of Citracal calcium plus heart health as one of the first calcium supplements that helps support both bone and heart health.

The new formulation contains 1,260-mg of calcium per daily dose, more than any other leading brand, and has advanced levels of vitamin D to support calcium absorption. It also contains phytosterols, a natural plant ingredient that may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol, the company stated.

“Calcium and vitamin D are critical for bone health, yet most women aren’t always getting enough of these important nutrients,” stated Julie Upton, Bayer spokeswoman. “I’m excited that women now have a new option that helps ensure they get enough calcium and vitamin D, as well as natural plant sterols, which may help to reduce their risk of heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women.”

“We strive to continue to develop new and innovative products to meet our consumers’ changing concerns,” stated Angela Vann, senior brand manager – Citracal. “Women need to attend to bone and heart health daily, and this product conveniently allows them to address both of these important health issues at the same time.”

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CDC: 48 states report widespread flu activity

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The H1N1 influenza pandemic was in full swing as of the week ended Oct. 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A total of 48 states reported widespread influenza activity, which means heightened influenza activity was reported in more than half of each state’s regions. The other two states, Hawaii and South Carolina, reported regional activity, which means more than one but less than half of that state’s regions reported heightened activity.

Deaths among children as a result of the H1N1 pandemic are also significantly higher this year as compared to seasons past. Twenty-two influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC between Aug. 23 and Oct. 24. Nineteen of these deaths were associated with 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infection and three were associated with an influenza A virus for which the subtype is undetermined.

Since Aug. 30, CDC has received 74 reports of influenza-associated pediatric deaths that occurred during the current influenza season (nine deaths in children less than 2 years old, nine deaths in children 2 to 4 years old, 27 deaths in children 5 to 11 years old and 29 deaths in individuals 12 to 17 years old). Sixty-five of the 74 deaths were due to 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infections, and the remaining nine were associated with influenza A virus for which the subtype is undetermined. A total of 114 deaths in children associated with 2009 H1N1 virus have been reported to CDC.

For comparison, seasonal flu was identified as the cause of death in 78 and 88 children, respectively, during the corresponding 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 seasons. As many as 117 deaths were reported last season, in part because of the spike of H1N1 illness late in the season.

Nationwide, 8% of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to influenza-like illness. This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.3%.

On a regional level, the percentage of outpatient visits for ILI ranged from 4.7% to 12%, and increased in 6-of-the-10 surveillance regions compared with the previous week. All 10 regions reported a proportion of outpatient visits for ILI above their region-specific baseline levels.

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