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Flu Gives Reckitt, Johnson & Johnson a Shot in the Arm

January 13, 2013

The New York Post dubbed the Big Apple "Flu York City." Boston declared a health emergency amid four flu-related deaths and a tenfold rise in serious flu cases vs. last year. Nationally, the percentage of doctor visits due to flu is way ahead of last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which finds the flu widespread in 44 states. The CDC expects cases to peak later this month or next, meaning the worst is yet to come.

It all adds up to great news for cough-and-cold marketers. What is shaping up to be the worst flu season in a decade is proving to be a windfall for the category just as competition was heating up between new leader Reckitt Benckiser and the company it bypassed, Johnson & Johnson.

RB, which acquired its way into the U.S. cough-cold business with the 2007 acquisition of Mucinex and Delsym and the 2011 acquisition of Cepacol, now commands a market that Deutsche Bank pegs as $6.5 billion annually, based on Nielsen data. Private-label leads brands in most segments, but RB is the top brand marketer.

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