It’s not only the treatments of viruses that can have side effects. The H1N1 epidemic itself has created a variety of “side effects” around the country, as well as in nearly every school district. Among them have been opportunities for companies to cash in with new products and services. Not all are legitimate.
To date, the Food and Drug Administration has sent letters of warning to the makers of some 143 fraudulent consumer products with flu-related claims, ranging from vitamin supplements to shampoo. School systems in particular have been the target of marketing efforts from a wide array of companies with H1N1-related products, since they have become both one of the main sources of the spread and the front line in fighting the virus.
From Web Sites to Sanitizers
Pearson has unveiled a new Web site called Continuity of Learning, which offers various resources for students, parents and teachers to “continue education if attending school is not an option due to the flu.”
Microsoft has designed an H1N1-themed Office Live Workspace page for teachers to “continue the learning online.”
Virtual Ed Link has added an “interactive swine flu prevention and safety course” to its school security resources.
Argus1 is a newly launched online “medical decision support system” for school administrators, that the company describes as having been designed “with particular attention to the swine flu virus.”
Alen Corporation has responded to the epidemic by designing a new air filter for classrooms, which “removes up to 50 percent of the viruses that cause influenza.”
Terraboost has offered to donate hand sanitizer dispensers and a one month supply of its Tazza product to schools.
And SpectraSan assures school administrators that “the swine flu is no match” for its “truly groundbreaking” type of surface disinfectant.
Marketing the Flu Angle
The flu has also given companies a new marketing angle for existing products. The classroom health instruction kit from Back Enterprises called “Germy Wormy,” which includes an instructional DVD and a spandex sleeve for students that has a cough and sneeze target at the elbow, is now described as “helping teachers fight back against H1N1.”
SchoolWires points out that its school Web site designs help “communities stay informed about the H1N1 virus.”
And emergency notification company AlertNow provides a guide on its Web site for schools using the system “to address swine flu inquiries.”