Unstructured Finance

Check Out Line: Have a flu shot, spend some more

flushot1Check out the impact of signs the U.S. flu season may be weaker this year.

Drug stores such as Walgreen, CVS and Rite Aid are offering flu shots earlier and more conveniently to keep sales from slumping with no expected H1N1 outbreak this year along the lines of last year.

Last year, consumers came for flu shots and bought other items as well, but those related sales could suffer this year. Walgreen, for example, said lower demand for flu-related prescriptions cut 0.3 percentage point from its same-store sales growth in August.

This year, drug stores began promoting flu shots in late August, a week earlier than last year.

Making it tougher for drug stores are rivals like grocery stores (Supervalu and Kroger), and big-box retailers (Target) have been offering flu shots as well.

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(Reuters photo)

Saturday Night Live pokes Goldman on flu shots

Perhaps theGoldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein best barometer of public scorn is the Saturday Night Live indicator: if SNL derides you in a comedy sketch, chances are, lots of people dislike you.

Witness this skit from Saturday, where SNL lambasted Goldman Sachs for receiving H1N1 flu vaccines. Goldman’s official line is that the New York City health department gave it swine flu shots to distribute to employees that qualify for it, such as pregnant women.

But to SNL, this was a case of bankers jumping the line for a scarce vaccine.

“I understand you are an institution and like all institutions you need vaccines, but before schools and hospitals?,” said castmember Seth Meyers. “Do you not know that you currently have a serious PR problem?”

Even CEOs don’t make the top of the H1N1 list

If anyone knows about the demand for flu-related products, it’s Kimberly-Clark Chairman and CEO Thomas Falk.

Falk’s company sells everything from Kleenex tissues — which aren’t seeing such hot sales as people have fewer sniffles — to N95 respirator masks, which are a top seller right now.

h1n1-flu-vaccinesFalk, who spoke with Reuters following his company’s better-than-expected results, said he got his seasonal flu shot at a store while he was in Wisconsin.  Though, he said he does not plan to get an H1N1 shot because the vaccine is being targeted at pregnant women (he’s not in that category) and people 24 and under (that’s right, he’s not on that list, either).

Check Out Line: Flu vaccinations aid drugstores


Check out Walgreen’s sales growth.

Walgreen Co, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, said on Friday that September sales at its stores open at least one year rose 5.3 percent, thanks to in-store flu vaccinations and people filling more 90-day prescriptions.

Sales of general merchandise, which consumers have been shying away from in past months, also rose for the first time since May for Walgreen.

Retailers began their seasonal flu vaccinations earlier than usual this year, amid raised awareness of the flu with the H1N1 pandemic. Pharmacy same-store sales rose 7 percent for Walgreen, with the number of prescriptions filled at existing stores jumping 12 percent, including 5.2 percentage points from pharmacists administering seasonal flu shots.

Vilsack rips media over swine flu, I mean, H1N1

Hog markets are depressed. Farmers struggle to put food on the table. Hard times are seeping into the rural economy, hurting owners of grocery and hardware stores.

Blame the media, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, unleashing several lengthy rants about the evils of oversimplification during a 25-minute teleconference with reporters on Thursday.

Vilsack scolded the media for continuing to call the new strain of pandemic H1N1 flu by its more common name: swine flu.

The flu frenzy has begun

flu-shotPeople have been worried about the H1N1 flu, aka swine flu, for months but the vaccine for that flu is not expected until at least mid-October.

So, for the time being, we’re taking a look at how the three major U.S. drugstore chains are preparing for the seasonal flu, which is responsible for about 36,000 deaths in the United States each year.

A survey conducted by Walgreen in mid-August found that 50 percent of consumers plan to get a seasonal flu shot this year, up from 43 percent who say they got one last season.  Twenty-seven percent of respondents to the online poll said they were more concerned about getting the flu than they were a year ago. 

Healthcare index stays firm

AIDS INDIA BLOODTESTThe BSE healthcare index traded firm and gained 1.3 percent on Wednesday in a market that ended marginally lower.

Ranbaxy Labs was up 4.5 percent while other stocks like IPCA Labs, Sun Pharma and Cipla posted decent gains.

Natco Pharma jumped 20 percent to close at 113.35 rupees after yesterday’s rise of nearly 19 percent. The stock which has gained 42 percent in just two trading sessions, also hit its 52-week high on Wednesday.