HEALTH

Mintel: Cough-cold remedy sales on the rise

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Sales of cough-cold remedies will total more than $3.6 billion in 2009, up 1.7% from last year, thanks in large part to the H1N1 pandemic, market research firm Mintel announced Thursday. And drug stores and supermarkets could see sales increases well into the double-digits through the remainder of the cold-and-flu season, Mintel projected.

“The U.S. cold, cough and throat remedy market saw a 13.4% spike in sales during 2005, when the avian flu dominated media stories,” stated Diana Nhan, senior market analyst for Mintel’s Global Market Navigator. “Already, swine flu has received equivalent media exposure, and many Americans are worried about the virus. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar trend-busting increase in U.S. cold, cough and throat remedy sales for 2009 and the early part of 2010.”

Americans dedicate more funds towards treating cold-like illnesses than people in the U.K., China or Russia, Mintel stated. In the U.S., all OTC medicine sales account for 0.22% of GDP, compared to 0.2% in Russia and approximately 0.17% in the U.K. and China.

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Vitamin Shoppe initiates public offering

BY Michael Johnsen

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. Perhaps some indication as to the promise of dietary supplements today, specialty retailer Vitamin Shoppe on Wednesday initiated a public offering with 7.7 million shares of common stock at $17.

Trading under the symbol VSI on the New York Stock Exchange, shares were trading at $18.28 by mid-morning Wednesday. Vitamin Shoppe intends to use the net proceeds of approximately $121.2 million from the offering for the pro rata redemption of approximately $72.5 million of its outstanding preferred stock, the repurchase of approximately $45.2 million in aggregate principal amount of its outstanding senior secured notes, and the payment of offering-related expenses.

J.P.Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch and Barclays Capital are acting as joint book-running managers for the offering. Piper Jaffray, Robert W. Baird & Co. and Stifel Nicolaus are the co-managers of the offering.

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HHS expands flu PSAs with spots featuring Elmo, local governors

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Department of Health and Human Services on Monday announced the availability of 13 new 30-second flu radio public service announcements, featuring 13 of America’s governors and Elmo from “Sesame Street.”

The messages, which will be promoted to radio stations across the country, promote key flu prevention messages to parents and children.

Children and young adults continue to be disproportionately affected by H1N1, HHS reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of the hospitalizations from 2009 H1N1 flu reported recently were people age 24 and younger.  That’s why HHS has teamed up with Sesame Workshop and other partners to promote flu prevention PSAs aimed at educating children and their parents about the importance of staying healthy during flu season.

“Elmo has emerged as one of our best partners in fighting the flu this year,” stated HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “That’s why we are excited for Elmo to join some of the nation’s governors in promoting important flu prevention tips. We know that kids are especially vulnerable against H1N1, and we hope that hearing flu prevention tips from Elmo will help them stay healthy and flu free.”

These new 30-second radio ads are designed for broadcast in states around the country. All of the new ads are available for download at http://www.flu.gov/psa/psacongress.html.

The new radio PSAs include recordings from Govs. Jodi Rell, Conn.; Chet Culver, Iowa; Mark Parkinson, Kansas; Jennifer Granholm, Mich.; Jay Nixon, Mo.; Bev Perdue, N.C.; John Hoeven, N.D.; Ted Strickland, Ohio; Brad Henry, Okla.; Ted Kulongoski, Ore.; Jim Douglas, Vt.; Chris Gregoire, Wash.; and Dave Freudenthal, Wyo.

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