HEALTH

Illness rates still high across Texas, Walgreens Flu Index reports

BY Michael Johnsen

Texas can’t seem to catch a break this flu season. Cities across the Lone Star State have ranked among the top 10 designated market areas with flu activity for the whole season, according to the weekly Walgreens Flu Index. For the week ended March 3, six Texas markets ranked among the top 10.

And while the Centers for DIsease Control and Prevention has been tracking illness gains in the Northeast, the three states with the greatest flu activity gains for this past week were Montana, Alaska and Oregon, Walgreens reported.

The top 10 markets with flu activity for the week ended March 3 were:

  1. Lincoln & Hastings-Kearney, Neb.;
  2. Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas;
  3. Omaha, Neb.;
  4. Oklahoma City;
  5. El Paso, Texas (Las Cruces, N.M.);
  6. Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas;
  7. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas;
  8. Columbia-Jefferson City, Mo.;
  9. Corpus Christi, Texas; and
  10. San Antonio.

Top 10 DMAs ranked by flu activity gains for the period were:

  1. Fresno-Visalia, Calif.;
  2. Anchorage, Alaska;
  3. Portland, Ore.;
  4. Bakersfield, Calif.;
  5. Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, Calif.;
  6. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif.;
  7. San Diego;
  8. Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.;
  9. Los Angeles; and
  10. Rochester, N.Y.

The Walgreens Flu Index is a weekly report developed to provide state- and market-specific information regarding flu activity, and ranks those states and markets experiencing the highest incidences of influenza across the country. The Flu Index provides insight by showing which cities or metropolitan areas are experiencing the most incidences of influenza each week based on Index methodology. The data does not measure actual levels or severity of flu activity.

The Walgreens Flu Index is compiled using weekly retail prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza across Walgreens and Duane Reade locations nationwide, including Walgreens locations in Puerto Rico. The data is analyzed at state and geographic market levels to measure absolute impact and incremental change of antiviral medications on a per store average basis, and does not include markets in which Walgreens has fewer than 10 retail locations.

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Nelsons gives Bach Original Flower Remedies package makeover

BY Michael Johnsen

Bach Original Flower Remedies, a system of 38 plant and flower based remedies to help manage the emotional demands of everyday life, on Tuesday introduced a bold redesign in time for the Natural Products Expo West.

“We’re thrilled to reveal our new labels, thoughtfully designed with the consumer in mind to better convey the essence of the Bach brand,” Brad Baker, vice president marketing at Nelsons, Bach’s parent company, said. “Color has long been associated with specific emotions and wellbeing – yellow symbolizes happiness, for example – so rainbow hues were strategically incorporated to reflect the emotional state each remedy addresses.”

While the formulas of the Boston-based supplier remain unchanged, the remedies have been artistically carried into the 21st century with this modern take on the original packaging design. Inspired by nature, the eye-catching illustrations reflect the flowers and plants used to make the 38 remedies – and the seven emotional groupings outlined by Dr. Bach – making it easier for individuals to identify which remedy is appropriate for them.

Bach Flower Remedies are made from wild flowers and are safe for the whole family, including pets. Each of the natural plant and flower based remedies aids a specific emotion, while personal combinations can be tailored to meet more acute needs.

They are available from Amazon, Whole Foods, Sprouts and wherever you find natural products across the U.S. and Canada.

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GSK study proves efficacy of Fluarix Tetra flu shot in children

BY Michael Johnsen

GSK today released new data published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health from a Phase III clinical trial using Fluarix Tetra (inactivated quadrivalent influenza vaccine) which prevented influenza A and B in children six to 35 months of age.

“Young children belong to one of the high-risk groups for influenza and are at particular risk of complications and severe disease, even when they are otherwise healthy. In addition, children play a major role in the dissemination of influenza in any community across the world,” Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer, GSK Vaccines, said. “This study is the first randomized clinical trial designed to evaluate vaccine efficacy for a Quadrivalent influenza vaccine in young children. It adds to the growing body of evidence to support universal vaccination including all children from six months of age to help prevent influenza in this age group, as well as the spread of influenza across the community.”

Vaccine efficacy was highest against moderate-to-severe influenza, where the disease is associated with the greatest medical and socioeconomic burden. The study met its two primary endpoints, demonstrating 63.2% vaccine efficacy against laboratory-confirmed moderate-to-severe influenza, and 49.8% vaccine efficacy against influenza of any severity in children six to 35 months of age.

Data from the secondary endpoint, looking at culture-confirmed influenza due to influenza strains matching the vaccine strains, showed vaccine efficacy in this subset was even higher. Vaccine efficacy against moderate-to-severe influenza was 77.6% and vaccine efficacy against influenza of any severity was 60.1%.

The study also found that the vaccine reduced the impact of influenza on healthcare utilization and daily activities, approximately halving the likelihood of visits to a doctor, antibiotic use, parental work absence and missed day-care related to the current influenza illness. This is the first study to demonstrate the impact, in a randomized clinical trial, of influenza vaccination on the use of antibiotics.

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