HEALTH

WRatings Corp. reveals Colgate-Palmolive as top consumer goods co.

BY Michael Johnsen

HERNDON, Va. The wRatings Corp., an independent stock research firm, last month revealed the results of the 2009 “Most Competitive Retail & Consumer Goods” study, finding that the recession has had a significant impact on consumer shopping behavior; 55% of the consumer-packaged goods companies among the top 20 rankings traded spots, with Colgate-Palmolive laying claim to the top spot.

“The competitive companies remaining in first quarter 2009 are on track to emerge from the recession with  greater customer and economic strength than their rivals,” wRatings stated. “Various reasons exist for their durability, but most critical are access to real-time data along with the ability to transform your business faster than ever before.”

To arrive at the rankings, wRatings asked consumers how well companies meet their expectations every quarter. The consumer ratings are categorized by nine competitive moats, or barriers to entry companies create to protect against rivals taking their customers and, ultimately, their profits. Each W Score blends a company’s historical  economic profit with its competitive moat scores.

Top 20 Most Competitive Consumer Goods Companies:

1. Colgate Toothpaste2. Mountain Dew/Diet MD3. Budweiser/Bud Light  4. Vaseline5. Kellogg Cereals6. Sam Adams/SA Light7. Weight Watchers8. Kleenex Tissue9. Clorox Products10. Gildan Activewear11. NIKE Products12. Marvel-Branded Products13. Coke/Diet Coke14. Crocs 15. Pepsi/Diet Pepsi16. Hormel Foods17t. Heelys17t. HNI Office Furniture  19. L’Oreal  20. Newport Cigarettes

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Alcon to extend eye drop product lines

BY Michael Johnsen

HUENENBERG, Switzerland Alcon recently announced that it is releasing two new line extensions this summer across its Systane Lubricant Eye Drops product line.

The product expansions include a dry eye drop for contact lens wearers and a preservative-free, single unit dose product.

Systane Contacts Lubricating Eye Drops, the new moisturizing drop for contact lens wearers, will be shipped in May and is designed to keep eyes comfortable while wearing contacts. 

Systane Ultra Preservative Free Vials will launch in August, the company reported. The dry-eye therapy provides extended protection to the ocular surface and increased comfort from the symptoms of dry eye.

“There are over 60 million Americans who suffer from dry eye, and we know they all have different needs,” stated Elyse Dickerson, product manager for Systane. “Expanding our product offering gives consumers more choices for effectively relieving their symptoms with a product designed for their specific needs.”

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CDC calls H1N1 virus ‘homogeneous,’ anticipates vaccine development

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Friday that scientists have determined that the various strains of novel H1N1 virus around the world are homogeneous — a factor that makes the development of a vaccine much easier.

“From our analysis, we have confirmed that the novel H1N1 virus likely originated from pigs, based on data that each of the genetic components of this virus are most closely related to corresponding influenza virus genes identified from swine influenza viruses,” commented Nancy Cox, director of the CDC’s influenza division, during a press call on Friday.

Referencing an article published Friday in the journal Science, Cox noted that the new H1N1 viruses are antigenically similar to each other. That is, they react to antibodies in a similar way. They’re rather homogeneous,” she said. “This makes our job of coming up with a reference candidate vaccine virus much, much easier. We see much less variation among these new H1N1 viruses than we do for typical, seasonal influenza viruses.”

Currently, the CDC is working on two vaccines for H1N1. One candidate vaccine virus was created by combining the genes of the novel H1N1 virus that are responsible for eliciting protection to influenza with other parts from other viruses that are needed for high growth in eggs. “That process is called reassortment,” commented Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s national center for immunization and respiratory diseases. Also, the CDC and the Federal Drug Administration have created a candidate virus using reverse genetics.

“Here at CDC, we’re performing analysis of the egg-derived and reverse genetics-derived candidate vaccine viruses to make sure that they are able to stimulate optimal immune responses, or that their ability to do that remains intact,” Schuchat said. “And after that work is done, suitable viruses will be sent out to manufacturers. We expect by the end of May that will happen so that they can begin work on developing candidate vaccine seed for production of pilot loss of vaccine.”

As of Monday at 11 a.m., there were 6,764 confirmed cases of H1N1 across 48 states, including 10 deaths. Schuchat estimated on Friday that there may be more than 100,000 active cases in the United States currently.

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