The flu is always a big topic of conversation this time of year—in the news, on the internet, everywhere—and there's a lot of information out there for medical professionals who are involved in flu testing. But how much of it is truly helpful?
In the midst of all the noise, we thought it might be nice to hear from some real people about some real situations, so we asked members of our staff to answer a few flu season-related questions.
Don't worry, we consolidated the responses.
Q: How do you help customers prepare for the flu season?
A: It's important to make sure customers remember that with the flu season coming, they need to be prepared for an influx of demand.
With some medical product companies, you're likely to find yourself in a situation where the products you need have to be back ordered because of such high demand. Puritan has all our flu testing products on the shelf, ready to fill orders. We can offer brochures, samples, or site visits to customers as well.
Q: What are some issues you've encountered when it comes to product availability in the flu season?
A: It never fails, during peak season—definitely through February—products end up back ordered.
When we speak with people who have ordered products from other suppliers during flu season, we often find that they can't keep up with the high demand. Many of these suppliers are overseas and it boils down to logistics and their inability to control how quickly the orders arrive in the U.S. and how long they are held by customs during the holiday season, when security is heightened.
That's where Puritan has a terrific advantage—all our products are manufactured in the U.S. and can be drop-shipped if needed.
Q: Why would someone choose a flocked swab over a standard spun swab for a flu test?
A: Flocked swabs have proven to be superior in capturing the viral cells and eluting them into a test.
It's in the engineering and design difference between the two. It's natural for a traditional spun fiber swab to trap the specimen due to the wrapping process of the fiber around the handle. The microstructure design of the flock fibers allow for complete absorption and more rapid elution. Because of this, the industry is trending away from traditional spun swabs and heading toward flocked—who would want to miss out on that?
Q: What are some common questions you are asked about our products?
A: Do they collect the adequate specimen amounts? Are they compatible with rapid detection equipment?
The answer to both, of course, is yes. Our products provide medical professionals with the tools needed to collect a viable nasopharyngeal sample from a patient, and safely transport the sample to the lab for automated rapid detection.
Our products are used as a component in some of the most well-known rapid diagnostic tests on the market today, so often times we get questions about what exact swabs, these diagnostic device and kit suppliers are using. When people like that set an industry standard, everyone else wants to make sure that they too use the best swabs on the market.
Q: Can you give us an example of a time when Puritan handled high-volume custom requests during the flu season?
A: Absolutely—the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.
On April 15, 2009, a 10-year-old who was tested for influenza as part of a clinical study was found to have a previously unknown strain of the flu virus later identified as H1N1, or swine flu. Two days later, testing confirmed a second infection, this time in an 8-year-old living about 130 miles away from the first patient.
On April 23, 2009, two additional cases were discovered in Texas, sparking a multistate outbreak response from the CDC and bringing new meaning to the phrase "flu season."
Puritan rapidly ramped up our sterile foam swab production capacity to respond to the growing need. We built, installed, and validated three foam tipping machines and four sterile wrapping machines to hit the surge in demand. The result was the capability to tip, wrap and sterilize 1 million foam swabs per week.
For these efforts we received an award from a customer for never going on back order despite unprecedented demand.
Ready to see how Puritan products can make your flu season easier?