The 2018-2019 flu season will be here any minute. Early signs show that this season will not be as severe as 2017-2018.
For perspective, influenza killed about 80,000 people in the 2017-2018 season, according to a September 27 news report citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The previous high for a regular flu season, based on analyses dating back more than three decades, was 56,000 deaths. In addition, last season more than 900,000 people were hospitalized, double the number of many regular seasons.
We thought it would be helpful to share a brief Question and Answer session on how the experience of last season shaped our approach to this season.
Q: What are the top lessons Puritan learned from the 2017-2018 flu season?
A: Here are a few lessons learned.
- Be nimble. We’ve adapted our approach to better meeting the needs of all of our lines of business: Flu, RSV, Strep and other infectious diseases, forensics, food safety, DNA-based tests of all kinds. We’re better prepared to adapt production based on the needs at hand.
- Provide readily available cross-reference information. In addition to assuring ample stock of Puritan brand items, we’re committed to being a better resource for distributors and end-users who need product that is in short supply elsewhere. Puritan manufactures specimen collection devices that are comparable to those found in commercially available tests as well as those used in POCT. The important thing is that the end-users get the products they need to do their work.
- Be prepared for the unexpected. No one really knows how severe a flu season is going to be. People are so busy with their day-to-day business, it’s hard to look ahead. By the time they do, they’re in a crisis and they need products quickly. As a manufacturer, we are constantly evaluating trends in purchases and efficiencies of our operation, to assure we are prepared for whatever the season brings.
Q: How did the mass, nationwide outbreak of flu affect Puritan’s approach to this year's flu season?
A: While we plan for the increased requirements that every flu season brings, the challenge has been maintaining ample levels of products needed for flu and seasonal illness testing while at the same time addressing the growing need for specimen collection devices in other areas such as forensics and DNA/genetics/genomics. We’ve met this challenge has been met with investments in new equipment and increased staff. This growth shows no sign of slowing down, and it will be answered through these investments. We are now producing more product and more items efficiently.
Q: How much more?
A: We’ve shipped 40,000 more cases (of swab products) than we did this time last year. It’s really a testament to our improved efficiency.
Q: Which flu-test related products were among the top-sellers in 2017?
A: While a large amount of the product Puritan produces goes into well-recognized test kits for flu and other ILIs (influenza like illnesses) our Puritan brand items were also in high demand. Here UniTranz-RT universal transport media for viral transport and HydraFlock for a broader range of specimens led the way.
Q: If you had one message to customers regarding the upcoming season, what would it be?
A: You can count on us. We’ve been producing high-quality products right here in the USA for 100 years now. We’re committed to meeting your needs.