HEALTH

CDC still urges H1N1 vaccination efforts despite incidence drop

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday urged the public and healthcare professionals not to become complacent with regard to H1N1 vaccinations. With more than 136 million H1N1 vaccine doses available for ordering, the CDC advised that if a person hasn’t gotten the vaccine yet, now would be a good time to do so.

The word of caution comes as the incidence of flu — still predominated by the H1N1 virus — has dropped significantly in the past month. Only four states — Deleware, Maine, New Jersey and Virginia — are still reporting widespread influenza-like illness, compared with more than 40 states reporting widespread ILI a little more than a month ago.

Anne Schuchat, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, suggested that history may have a chance to repeat itself if the public does not remain vigilant. During the 1957 pandemic, incidence dropped significantly over the December-January period, but picked up that spring with a higher mortality rate.

“This is really a reminder of why we are saying that we need to remain vigilant,” Schuchat said. “This is why my colleagues and I in public health are encouraging people to be vaccinated, especially those who are at risk of complications.  None of us can predict what’s going to happen. … We don’t know what’s going to happen over the next several weeks or months.”

In 1957, following that drop in incidence, health officials “essentially gave the all-clear whistle,” Schuchat said. “They had vaccine, but they didn’t encourage its use and yet they did go on to see that increase in mortality. … As long as this virus is circulating, it has the potential to cause illness.”

And though incidence of flu is currently declining, incidence is still higher than is normal for this time of year, and the traditional flu season has yet to materialize. “All the virus that we’re seeing right now is the H1N1 virus,” Schuchat said. ”We haven’t yet seen the emergence of seasonal flu strains in any numbers at all.”

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Report: GSK to underwrite documentary focused on weight loss, eating

BY Michael Johnsen

GlaxoSmithKline will be underwriting a weight-loss/eating documentary in partnership with the Creative Coalition, an advocacy group backed by Tim Daly and other actors, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Both GSK and the Creative Coalition told the Times that the documentary wouldn’t be table dressing with GSK’s over-the-counter weight-loss drug Alli featured as the main course.

“This won’t be a marketing tool at all,” Robin Bronk, the Creative Coalition’s executive director, told a Times reporter.

A director is to be named at the Sundance Film Festival Jan. 25. Production is expected to be completed this year.

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P&G develops new program in line with Prilosec OTC

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI Procter & Gamble on Wednesday revealed a little of its Prilosec OTC marketshare protection strategy with the launch of the “Official Sponsor of Everything You Do Without Heartburn” program.

“Our consumers tell us that frequent heartburn prevents them from doing a lot of the things they love to do,” stated Robert Cleveland, Prilosec OTC brand manager. “Prilosec OTC provides powerful protection against frequent heartburn so our consumers can enjoy their passions, and these individualized sponsorships will help them take those passions to the next level.”

People can apply for a chance for sponsorship in one of 15 categories, which range from Health & Fitness, to Community Service, to Arts & Crafts, among others. To apply, consumers can visit OfficialSponsor.com, create a profile and fill out the sponsorship application. The application process includes the option to upload pictures or videos to express who they are and what they love to do. If selected, P&G will provide an average of $1,000 worth of resources to help take Prilosec OTC’s patient’s passions to the next level.

The public will have a chance to view every applicant’s online profile and vote for their favorites. The application deadline for the initial round of sponsorships is Feb. 22, and those chosen for sponsorship will be announced on or around March 19. A second round of sponsorships will be conducted shortly after.

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