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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Senate approves Sen. Kennedy’s Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions last week approved Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, a bill that would move regulation of tobacco products under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration. The bill could be considered for approval by the general Senate as early as the first week in June.

The bill would allow the FDA to ban certain tobacco products and restrict advertisements, such as eliminating the terms “mild” or “low-tar,” for example.

The FDA’s newfound regulatory power over tobacco marketing and merchandising would be funded by user fees, which, according to the Senate bill, would total $85 million for fiscal 2009 and $235 million for fiscal 2010, and would grow significantly each year to reach $712 million in user fees per year by 2019.

If passed, the legislation could have significant consequences across retail. It’s a $9.2 billion business across all of food, drug and mass outlets, according to Nielsen Group scan data, that grew by 2.2% for the 52 weeks ended April 18.

There is some concern that placing tobacco regulation under the FDA could be a prelude to pulling tobacco products off the market altogether, given the well-documented, adverse side effects associated with the use of tobacco and the FDA’s mission statement, which charges the agency with “protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy” of regulated products.

In the beginning of April, the House of Representatives passed similar legislation, and President Barack Obama is reportedly in favor the tobacco legislation.

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CDC suggests that older adults may have pre-existing antibodies to combat H1N1

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA A study published last week in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report determined that older adults might have some pre-existing antibodies against the novel H1N1 virus, which would explain why this new virus is more prominent among younger, healthier populations.

Those antibodies may have come from past flu shots.

“The presence of preexisting antibody may be due to previous exposure through infection or vaccination to an Influenza A (H1N1) virus that more closely related to this novel H1N1 virus than the contemporary seasonal H1N1 strains that we had,” stated Anne Schuchat, director of immunizations and respiratory diseases. “We don’t know yet what that will mean in terms of actual immunity or clinical protection. It’s interesting that the laboratory findings we’re reporting seem to correlate with the epidemiologic data that we have so far that suggests most of the illnesses we’re seeing have occurred in younger people and have spared the elderly, who are at great risk for seasonal influenza.”

Of the cases reported to the CDC that have undergone laboratory testing, 64% are occurring in people between 5 and 24 years of age. Conversely, just about 1% of cases are in people over 65. “So the vast majority are in younger persons, and the biggest proportion of those are people in the 5- to 24-year-old age group,” Schuchat said.

The results presented in the study found that the current seasonal influenza vaccine provides little or no immune benefit against the novel H1N1 flu virus. Further, the laboratory results, while interesting, do not necessarily indicate that seniors may have some level of immunity to the H1N1 virus currently circulating, Schuchat said.

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