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Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Hand sanitizers popular in swine flu scare

May 1, 2009

flu1Check out the uptick in business at U.S. and Canadian drug store chains amid the swine flu scare.

Hand sanitizers, antibacterial soap, face masks and gloves are flying off the shelves of drug stores due to fear of swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, but executives said it is too early to judge the impact in other retail sectors.

The makers of such products, like Johnson & Johnson’s widely used hand sanitizer Purell, are ramping up production to meet demand.

Even Kellogg, the world’s largest cereal maker, said it had seen some large orders from Mexican retailers that may be stockpiling in case consumers begin hoarding food in the wake of the flu outbreak there. However, officials there were encouraged by signs the number of new cases were dropping.

The swine flu has spread to several countries, including the United States, where even a U.S. government staffer who visited Mexico City with President Barack Obama last month came down with flu-like symptoms that spread to family members. Tests are being run to see if it was the H1N1 virus. 

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(Reuters photo)

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