Thursday, February 28, 2013

True Costs of the Flu

Though recently (as of mid February 2013) the flu season is showing signs of winding down, 2012 - 2013 has been a strong flu season, particularly dominant H3N2 strain, which was last seen a decade ago, in 2002-03. Not only with is there an increase reported flu cases but also with the more severe incidences of hospitalizations and other diseases (pneumonia), according to CDC dataRecent healthcare provider 
Health care provider Concentra looked at the true cost of influenza on the American economy.  (
From their report "Below are some actual statistics and costs directly related to the flu that employers and individuals face due to an influenza outbreak:
--According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza is responsible for a total cost of over $10 billion per year in the United States. A future pandemic could result in hundreds of billions of dollars in direct and indirect costs.
--Every year, businesses spend approximately $10.4 billion on flu-related illnesses in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits.
--A study of the impact of influenza on productivity found that the last flu season resulted in 111 million lost work days."
These costs should be a part of the marketing message of providers of products to combat the flu - antiviral products, vaccines and diagnostics.   
Vaccines may see a boost from the flu season, though the product sales take time to catch up with the outbreaks.  With continued publicity for flu vaccines, and with customers racing to doctor’s offices and pharmacies to get the flu shot, there’s a natural tendency to think that this means big revenues for those who make flu vaccines. That’s not entirely out of the question but as Kalorama has been watching the industry for some time, we know that predicting vaccine markets is a little complex.  Our vaccine analyst makes the following point:
“I think this will increase demand for flu shots this season  although it's not clear if that demand can be supplied. Orders were put in months ago. Maybe it can be filled   maybe just partially  not sure. I don't think it will cause a huge surge, though, because the big recent jump in flu vaccine was due to stockpiling of pandemic flu vaccine. That isn't the case here. So I would expect a moderate increase but not enormous.”
For more information on flu vaccine markets, consult Kalorama's full-length study on vaccines, Vaccines 2012-2016, available on Kalorama's website: