HEALTH

Walgreens: As West recovers, flu incidence gains in Northeast

BY DSN STAFF

While flu incidence appears to recede in the West, influenza-like illnesses are trending in the East, and particularly in the Northeast, according to the latest Walgreens Flu Index released Wednesday.

Week to week, there was little change in the flu incidence heat map issued by Walgreens, though Tennessee moved from red, indicating a high level of flu activity, to orange. Meanwhile, Maine moved from a “green” status, suggesting fewer incidents of flu, to orange.

For the week ending Feb. 17, the top 10 designated market areas experiencing flu activity gains were:

  1. Lincoln & Hastings-Kearney, Neb.;
  2. Memphis, Tenn.;
  3. Salisbury, Md.;
  4. Nashville, Tenn.;
  5. Paducah, Ky.-Cape Girardeau, Mo.-Harrisburg, Ill.;
  6. Philadelphia;
  7. Baltimore;
  8. Youngstown, Ohio;
  9. Lexington, Ky.; and
  10. Traverse City-Cadillac, Mich.

Overall, the top 10 DMAs with flu incidence for that week were:

  1. Oklahoma City;
  2. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas;
  3. Little Rock-Pine Bluff, Ark.;
  4. El Paso, Texas (Las Cruces, N.M.);
  5. Nashville, Tenn.;
  6. Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas;
  7. Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, N.C.;
  8. Shreveport, La.;
  9. Lincoln & Hastings-Kearney, Neb.; and
  10. Tyler-Longview (Lufkin & Nacogdoches), Texas.

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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Vitalah names new president

BY Michael Johnsen

Vitalah on Tuesday named Tom Tierney president. Tierney has an extensive sales background in a wide range of business categories and channels.

“We are very proud to have Tom join our executive team. His prominent business background and adaptable leadership style has generated thriving enterprises across multiple retail channels and we are excited to start implementing his strategic plans into our organization,” Lisa Lent, Vitalah CEO, said.

In his most recent endeavor at Amazing Grass, Tierney was recruited to join the entrepreneurial business at its infancy and organized the launch of an organic supplement product line in the natural product channel, e-tail channel and crossover FDM retailers. Responsible for managing direct sales representatives, brokers and international distributors, his leadership role focused on establishing strategic retail partnerships, building sales infrastructure and recruiting and managing a high performance sales team. Amazing Grass was successfully acquired by Glanbia in January 2017.

Now equipped with more than 30 years of experience, Tierney has joined the Oxylent team with high expectations and sales goals. “For the past 9 years, the [Oxylent] brand has continuously received multiple awards and recognition for their superior quality and formulations. Now that is a reputation I can proudly stand behind,” Tierney said. “I’m truly impressed by the owner’s immense passion and determination for the brand as well as a strong team of individuals who possess the qualities necessary to create a successful operation. I’m looking forward to being a part of a team of outstanding individuals and supporting the growth of Oxylent.”

Vitalah recently announced the introduction of four new Oxylent capsule formulas for the 2018 Natural Products Expo West Trade Show March 9th – 11th at the Convention Center located in Anaheim, California.

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Like Walgreens, CDC data suggests flu season has passed its peak

BY Michael Johnsen

Finally, there is an indicator that the nation may be on the back end of the bell curve representing this year’s flu season. For the week ended Feb. 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported influenza-like activity crested at 7.7% nationwide, which means this year is the most prevalent season since at least 2003/2004 when illness rates reached 7.6%.

On Friday, CDC reported ILI rates dropped to 7.5% for the week ended Feb. 10.

On the CDC heat map, this year’s flu season still appears to be raging. And it is, though Colorado, Florida, Oregon and Wisconsin each went from the highest level of ILI activity to one shade of orange below as a potential indicator that this season may be on its downswing.

Earlier this week, Walgreens similarly published a flu heat map that indicated the end of the flu season may be in sight.

Nonetheless, the CDC continues to recommend influenza vaccination for all persons 6 months of age and older as flu viruses are likely to continue circulating for weeks and there is an increasing proportion of influenza B and H1N1 viruses being detected.

Early estimates show that flu vaccine has reduced risk of having to go to the doctor due to flu by 36% overall so far this season and that flu vaccine is offering substantial protection against H1N1 flu as well as moderate protection against flu B viruses. In addition, in the context of widespread influenza activity, CDC is reminding clinicians and the public about the importance of prompt treatment with antiviral medications in people who are severely ill and people who are at high risk of serious flu complications who develop flu symptoms.

According to an IRI evaluation of this year’s cough/cold season released earlier this month, this year’s plethora of sniffles, sneezes, aches and pains has significantly driven sales of over-the-counter cough, cold and flu remedies. For the four weeks ended Jan. 14, sales of cough syrups were up 39.9% nationwide; sales of cough-cold liquid formulations were up 35.1%; and sales of cough-cold tablets were up 26.8%.

 

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