HEALTH

Matrixx Initiatives reports this year’s cough/cold/flu season is tracking lower than last year’s

BY Michael Johnsen

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. This year’s cough/cold/flu season is tracking below even last year’s historically low levels, Matrixx Iniatives reported Monday, though retailers may be in a better position across their respective supply chains this year compared with last.

“For the 12 weeks ended Dec. 28, retail unit sales (three-outlet syndicated scanner data, not including Walmart or club stores) of Zicam products decreased approximately 3%, while the total cough/cold category declined approximately 1% compared to last year,” stated Bill Hemelt, acting president and COO, Matrixx. “While we are disappointed with the slow start to the season, we believe that, unlike last year, certain retailers did not enter the season in an over-stock position and are managing their buying to match increasing retail sales,” he said.

“We anticipate continued sales growth for our proprietary swab delivery products and have moved forward with building a second swab manufacturing machine to come on line in early fall 2009 to meet increasing consumer demand for our swab products,” Hemelt added.

For the third quarter ended Dec. 31, Matrixx reported a revenue increase of 26% to $38.7 million. “The 26% increase in fiscal third-quarter sales was driven by higher sales of Cold Remedy swabs and our new Allergy swab product, price increases implemented prior to the start of the current cold season and lower product return charges incurred compared with last year,” Hemelt said.

“As discussed previously, we had planned our marketing program to better coincide with the incidence of colds, and shifted approximately $3 million in spending from the third quarter to the fourth quarter,” Hemelt added. “The reduced marketing spending in the third quarter was the principal reason operating expense decreased as compared with last year.”

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Abbott to commence cash tender offer for Advanced Medical Optics

BY Michael Johnsen

ABOTT PARK, Ill. Abbott will commence on Tuesday a cash tender offer for all outstanding shares of common stock of Advanced Medical Optics at $22 per share on Jan. 27, in a deal worth approximately $2.8 billion, the company announced Monday.

Abbott and AMO announced the proposed merger earlier this month. “With AMO, Abbott is enhancing and strengthening its diverse mix of medical device businesses and gaining a leadership position in another large and growing segment,” stated Miles White, Abbott chairman and CEO, in announcing the deal Jan. 12. “Additionally, Abbott’s significant global presence will help drive growth opportunities for this business, especially in international markets, where favorable demographics are driving demand for advanced eye care procedures and products.”

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including antitrust clearances. Abbott and AMO expect the transaction to close in the first quarter of 2009.

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Patients give OTC heartburn medications positive reviews in new study

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON New research from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and The Nielsen Company indicates 94% patient satisfaction with available over-the-counter heartburn medications and estimates that OTC heartburn therapies save patients an average total of $174 each in office visits and medication costs annually, the two organizations announced Monday.

In addition, CHPA and Nielsen attribute $757 million in annual savings to the U.S. healthcare system based on fewer office visits — all good news for millions of Americans who suffer from heartburn as well as an overburdened healthcare system. 

“This is wonderful news for consumers. This study points to a high level of satisfaction plus costs savings among those who turn to OTC heartburn medicines for symptom relief,” stated Linda Suydam, president, CHPA. “The overall findings reflect the evolution of heartburn treatments as the availability of effective over-the-counter treatment options have expanded over the past 15 years.” 

“The savings these OTC medicines provide to the U.S. healthcare system are equally significant,” stated Jim Mansfield, The Nielsen Company and one of the study’s authors. “Ongoing research into health outcomes and the cost of lost work time and misdiagnosis holds the potential to identify additional — yet substantial — savings.” 

The study, “Benefits of Over-the-Counter Heartburn Medication to Consumers and the Healthcare System,” was conducted in 2008 and is based on online and written survey responses from nearly 10,000 U.S. consumers who use OTC heartburn medication. 

The research was conducted using NielsenHealth’s Upper GI Ailment Panel data related to consumer satisfaction with the full range OTC heartburn remedies, including antacids, H2-blockers and proton pump inhibitors. Researchers used a combination of consumer data compiled by Nielsen and provider data compiled by WoltersKluwer Health’s Dynamic Claims to estimate cost savings. 

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