HEALTH

IRI study: Consumers not worried about catching H1N1 virus

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Almost half of Americans (45%) are not concerned about getting a contagious disease like the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus, according to a new consumer survey conducted by Information Resources Inc.

However, that doesn’t mean Americans aren’t looking to actively protect themselves from catching the flu — 54% reported that they would wash their hands more frequently, 24% suggested they would venture out into the public less often and 20% said they would buy more alcohol-based or antibacterial hand cleaners in an effort to prevent infection.

“This epidemic announcement has caught the shoppers’ attention,” Thomas Blischok, president of consulting and innovation, IRI, told Drug Store News. “And their immediate [reaction] was to buy more hand sanitizers [and] any sort of ‘safety’-related products.”

Sales in those hand sanitizers and related products — like N95 masks, for example — spiked in the immediate aftermath of the H1N1 announcement but have dropped since. That could change this fall if the story of an H1N1 return to the U.S. dominates news broadcasts, as is likely, Blischok suggested, and retailers need to be prepared. For the retailer developing a strategy around this now, Blischok said, “it might be good to begin analyzing their data and understand exactly about people who were concerned about [H1N1] changed their purchase behaviors.”

Many of those products — hand sanitizers, facemasks, thermometers, even prescription antiviral medications — were reported out-of-stock when news of H1N1 first broke, Blischok noted. Now, retailers have a few months to prepare for an expected resurgence in demand around those products.

“I can even see the development of a ‘flu avoidance’ endcap,” Blischok said. “Information [and communication] will be key; understanding what people will buy will be key; [and] being very clear that you have the right assortment to support flu prevention will be key.”

Another important issue, especially for pharmacy operators, is the dissemination of information, Blischok said. Once alerted to the potential of a pandemic, Blischok said, consumers turned to their healthcare resources, such as the pharmacist, for more information.

“The clinics inside the drug stores have a great opportunity to really over-communicate things you can do to prevent flu, to avoid flu,” Blischok added. “The stores that have clinics can really win here, because they can do some diagnostics, etc., and really help people understand exactly the kinds of behaviors they should be undertaking to give themselves the greatest chance of not getting the flu.”

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HEALTH

ACG develops ‘IBS Treatment Matrix’

BY Michael Johnsen

BETHESDA, Md. The American College of Gastroenterology announced Wednesday that it will unveil “The IBS Test” and “The IBS Treatment Matrix” — two new online, interactive patient tools based on recently published ACG meta-analysis, offering evidence-based graded recommendations on the full range of options for testing and treatment of IBS — on May 29 in recognition of World Digestive Health Day.

IBS is a chronic functional gastrointestinal disorder which for many sufferers is marked by abdominal discomfort, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea. It is estimated that between 10% and 15% of the U.S. adult population suffers from IBS symptoms, yet only 5% to 7% of adults have been diagnosed with the disease. According to studies, IBS patients make more visits to their physicians, undergo more diagnostic tests, are prescribed more medications, miss more workdays, have lower work productivity, are hospitalized more frequently, and account for greater overall direct healthcare costs than patients without IBS.

The IBS Treatment Matrix for patients was built based on a new ACG systematic review of the evidence on IBS treatments. Published in the January 2009 issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology, the review offers graded recommendations on the full spectrum of options for testing and treatment of IBS, addressing everything from new IBS drugs to alternative therapies including psychotherapy and acupuncture.

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Pollen.com identified as reliable source for health information

BY Michael Johnsen

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. SDI on Wednesday announced that its Pollen.com allergy site received the Health On the Net Foundation’s Code of Conduct certification, identifying it as an internationally reliable source of health information.

Pollen.com’s audience has grown by more than 466% since the site’s launch in 2002. In April 2009, the site and network had more than 26.5 million page views.

“With our growing audience, the Health On the Net certification gives our visitors and advertisers further confidence that the information we are providing is a gold standard – it’s trustworthy, timely and credible,” stated Glenn Connery, associate director of the application development/Web group for SDI.

Certification by HON means that Pollen.com provides sound, authoritative information; data confidentiality and privacy; proper attribution of sources; and transparency, such as a clear delineation of advertising and editorial content.

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