Walgreens Flu Index reveals top markets, states for flu activity

BY Antoinette Alexander

DEERFIELD, Ill. — With flu activity winding down in the United States, Walgreens has announced the top markets and states for flu activity for this season, according to its season-ending flu index examining aggregate prescription data from November 2014 through February 2015.

The states with the highest rates of influenza, according to the index, were Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Texas and Tennessee. Portland, Ore., Hartford, Conn., and Boston were the markets with the least amount of flu activity.

“In just its first season, the Flu Index quickly became a resource that people — and news media in particula —, came to rely upon, and strong awareness helped deliver a call to action that had a positive impact on flu immunization rates,” stated Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of pharmacy and retail operations. “This is another way in which we’re helping to better the health of our communities by providing the preventive health information and services they need.”

The Walgreens Flu Index provides state- and market-specific information regarding flu activity, and is compiled using retail prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza across Walgreens locations nationwide. With the ability to generate hyper-local data that’s as specific as a single zip code, the index was instrumental in driving consumer awareness and prevention within communities, while also serving as a valuable tool for health departments, media and others at the local level.

Top 10 DMAs with Flu Activity
(Aggregate data from November 2014 through February 2015)

  1. Oklahoma City, Okla.

  2. Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas

  3. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

  4. Jackson, Miss.

  5. Fort Smith-Fayetteville, Ark.

  6. Knoxville, Tenn.

  7. Austin, Texas

  8. Little Rock-Pine Bluff, Ark.

  9. Chattanooga, Tenn.

  10. Tulsa, Okla.

Top 10 States with Flu Activity
(Aggregate data from November 2014 through February 2015)

  1. Oklahoma

  2. Arkansas

  3. Mississippi

  4. Texas

  5. Tennessee

  6. Louisiana

  7. Alabama

  8. Kentucky

  9. Nebraska

  10. South Carolina

New “Bottom 10” Shows Markets with Least Amount of Influenza Activity

In addition to the top markets for activity, the season-ending index also shows the bottom 10, suggesting successful prevention efforts in preparation for, and during flu season in these communities, which experienced the lowest levels of influenza.

Markets with Least Flu Activity
(Aggregate data from November 2014 through February 2015)

  1. Portland, Ore.

  2. Hartford-New Haven, Conn.

  3. Boston, Mass.

  4. Fresno-Visalia, Calif.

  5. Sacramento, Calif.
  6. Tucson, Ariz.

  7. Buffalo, N.Y.

  8. Providence, R.I.

  9. Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.

  10. Los Angeles

The Walgreens Flu Index 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 20 retail locations.

The flu index is not intended to illustrate levels or severity of flu activity, but rather, illustrate which populations are experiencing the highest incidence of flu.


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H. D. Smith makes changes to executive leadership structure

BY Antoinette Alexander

Dale Smith, chairman and CEO of H. D. Smith Holding Co.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — H. D. Smith, an independent wholesaler and pharmaceutical brand support company, has announced a series of executive moves, including the appointment of Dale Smith as chairman and CEO of H. D. Smith Holding Co.

In his new role, Smith will oversee progress for all H. D. Smith business units, including wholesale distribution and specialty solutions. Smith previously served as chairman and CEO of H. D. Smith Wholesale Drug Co.

Additional executive moves include:

  • Chris Smith, who served as president and COO for H. D. Smith Wholesale Drug Co., is now its president and CEO, with executive responsibility for the H. D. Smith wholesale distribution business unit, as well as the functional areas of information technology, human resources and finance, which support the entire company.
  • Bob Appleby, previously SVP of category management at H. D. Smith Wholesale Drug Co., has been named president of H. D. Smith Specialty Solutions, which includes subsidiaries Smith Medical Partners and Triplefin. Transitioning into this role, he will be responsible for managing one of the company's fastest-growing business units as the nation seeks to shift health delivery closer to patients.
  • Joe Conda joins the office of the chairman as EVP to focus on expanding upon the company's mission as an integrated provider of health products, solutions and services, a role that includes acquisitions and alliances. He was previously president of H. D. Smith Specialty Solutions.


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Generic or brand-name prescription drugs? A Harris Poll examines Americans’ preference

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — A new Harris Poll finds Americans favor generic prescription drugs over brand name products by a considerable margin.

Eighty-one percent of those who buy prescription drugs say they would purchase generics more often than brand-name drugs. A 42% subset goes so far as to assert that they would "always" choose to buy a generic drug. Older generations are especially likely to indicate that they would always go with generics (50% matures, 44% baby boomers, and 46% Gen X versus 33% millennials).

Meanwhile, 19% of those who purchase prescription drugs would more often choose to fill their script with the brand-name drug, and a mere 6% would "always" choose brand names. It is worth noting, however, that though majorities of adults both with and without children in their households favor generics, the minority preference for brand names is stronger among those with children in the household (24% with versus 17% without).
The Harris Poll was conducted among 2,255 U.S. adults surveyed online between Nov. 12 and 17, 2014.

When it comes down to the money

According to the findings, though an admittedly low percentage of generic drug buyers are unwilling to pay any out-of-pocket costs, the percentage has doubled in the past six years from 4% in 2008 to 8% now. Meanwhile, half (50%) of those who would buy generic drugs say they would be willing to pay $10 or less for a 30-day supply, 28% would pay between $10.01 and $25, and 11% would be open to out-of-pocket expenses between $25.01 and $50. Only 4% would shell out more than $50 to get their prescription filled with a generic.
Interestingly, millennials, men and those with children in their households are all more likely than their counterparts to say they would pay more than $10 out-of-pocket for generic prescription drugs.

  • 52% of millennials versus 41% Gen Xers, 37% baby boomers and 38% matures
  • 47% of men versus 38% of women
  • 50% of adults with children in their households versus 40% of adults with no children in their households

Where to get the goods

Nine-in-10 adults buy prescription drugs (89%), but no single-purchase channel garners a majority of this business. However, a 32% plurality fills their prescriptions at chain drug stores. Meanwhile, nearly 2-in-10 of respondents said that they obtain prescription drugs at discount store pharmacies (17%), while more than 1-in-10 do so online or by mail order (14%) and at supermarket pharmacies (11%). Less than 10% visit local independent pharmacies (7%) and pharmacies at hospitals or medical centers (5%).

According to the survey, millennials are less likely than their elders to purchase prescription drugs at all (82% versus 91% Gen X, 92% baby boomers, and 96% matures). However, when they do need to fill a script, they and members of Gen X are most likely to do so at chain drug stores (41% millennials and 36% Gen X versus 24% each baby boomers and matures). In an interesting reversal, millennials — often noted for their more intense online presence as compared with their elders — are less likely than any other generation to obtain prescription drugs online or by mail order (3% millennials versus 13% Gen X, 21% baby boomers, and 26% matures).


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Which area of the industry do you think Amazon's entry would shake up the most?