HEALTH

New features added to Flu.gov

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK No matter how this season breaks out — in terms of numbers of people who become sick with the cold or flu, or in terms of how severe their symptoms may be — there is one sure thing: People know about the flu vaccine. And through this government Web site, they can find out where to get that vaccine if they are so inclined.

 

Those sites at this early stage, if they are even listed, are mostly hospitals and healthcare departments, and inoculations are being offered only to those people on the CDC’s high-risk group (healthcare professionals, pregnant women, caregivers of young children and people with a chronic upper-respiratory condition).

 

 

But given the need to inoculate a significant portion of the population in an effort to reach “herd immunity,” the pharmacies and retail clinics that many people already go to for their seasonal flu vaccine are expected to play a role.

 

 

And that means those pharmacies and clinics likely will be listed as a “where-to-go” on the flu.gov Web site.

 

 

Also on the site — recommendations to get almost germophobic about washing hands, and if not with soap and water, then with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; and recommendations around wearing N95 facemasks if you become a caregiver for someone who has the flu — both products, of course, currently in wide supply at the pharmacy.

 

 

Also in wide supply at the pharmacy — cold-and-flu symptom relievers and fever reducers. According to one company that tracks the sale of cough-cold medicines, sales of some of those medicines already are up more than 90%. And the season has yet to really start.

 

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CDC refutes reports that influenza vaccine poses risk of developing H1N1

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday played down recent media reports describing unpublished findings from seasonal influenza vaccine studies conducted in Canada.

The findings from these studies suggest that receiving the 2008-09 seasonal influenza vaccine (which is the vaccine offered last influenza season) was a risk factor for developing influenza caused by the 2009 H1N1 virus. In the studies done in Canada, the increase in risk among persons vaccinated with a seasonal influenza vaccine was approximately double the risk for those who were not vaccinated with seasonal influenza vaccine.

“However, the research findings from Canada have not been published in the medical literature or presented at any public scientific meetings. There has not yet been an opportunity to fully review the studies in detail,” CDC stated.

“Preliminary results of studies conducted in the United States using methods similar to the Canadian studies did not indicate that receiving a seasonal influenza vaccine increased the risk of developing influenza caused by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus,” the agency added. “No other country has reported that seasonal influenza vaccine increases the risk of developing influenza caused by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.”

One one study has been published on this issue — an Australian study that did not find any association between receipt of seasonal influenza vaccine and risk of developing influenza caused by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.

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Florastor products to be sold at CVS/pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN BRUNO, Calif. As part of its continued expansion throughout the U.S. retail market, Biocodex, the U.S. distributor of Florastor and Florastor Kids, has secured distribution through CVS/pharmacy beginning this month, the company announced. Florastor will be placed on-shelf in the stomach/digestives aisle, while Florastor Kids will be available upon request behind the counter.

According to Dan Harper, director of sales for Biocodex, the stomach/digestives aisle is the most appropriate spot for this product – in the company of popular anti-diarrheal remedies.

“While Florastor is technically a dietary supplement, it is used successfully by many to manage digestive ailments and diarrhea, so it makes sense for it to be available in the section where the consumer will be looking for those types of items,” Harper said.

“When Florastor was first introduced to Americans, the idea of probiotics was not well understood by mainstream consumers or even traditional medical practitioners,” stated Marc Rohman, U.S. VP and GM of Biocodex. “However, as Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of probiotics, particularly yeast-based probiotics such as Florastor, expanding distribution into the chain stores was the next logical step to meet the demand we’re seeing.”

According to Rohman, sales of Florastor have grown annually, even without widespread on-shelf availability, as a result of increased pharmacist and consumer awareness of the probiotic category, word-of-mouth and physician recommendations.

The latest chain shelf space acquisitions are the result of Biocodex’s work with Morgan & Sampson USA, with which Biocodex teamed to help manage its growth and distribution within the U.S. retail trade.

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