Are antiviral tissues worth the extra cost?

Kleenex ‘sneeze shield’ tissues cost 12 times as much as a regular box

by Ryan Mallough

Flu season is a miserable time of dizzying nausea and hacking coughs for millions across North America. But for some companies, it’s also an opportune time for sales.

Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Kleenex brand tissues, has seen a net jump in its stock price in nine of the past 12 flu seasons (October-March), and is on pace to do it again this year. Its stock sits at $86.33 per share, up from $85.99 in October with peak flu season just around the corner.

Kleenex controls roughly 45 per cent of the approximately $1.5-billion tissue market, but saw its share slip last year as store brands made small gains. Recently, Kleenex has made a marketing push for what it calls its “sneeze shield” tissues, which are coated to prevent mucus from getting to the hands, and its antiviral tissues. These anti-flu tissues don’t come cheap. Sneeze shield tissues cost $3.99 for a box of 120. The antiviral tissues are $4.29 for a box of 68, or an incredible 12 times the cost of a run-of-the-mill box of Royale tissues at $0.69 for a box of 132.

While the fancy Kleenex packaging promises to reduce the spread of germs and kill up to 99.9 per cent of cold and flu viruses, it may not be worth the extra cost, say health experts. A 1988 study suggested that Kleenex may be taking advantage of consumers’ flu fears. Researchers found that antiviral tissues are only slightly more effective than standard tissues and about the same as handwashing with soap when it comes to preventing the spread of colds and flu.

Some doctors are also concerned that the promises on the packaging can lead buyers to put off vaccinations, thinking they’re protected, when the product does more after the virus takes hold than it does for prevention. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that tissues can be helpful—if they catch the cough or sneeze—but that “vaccination and strong handwashing and hygiene practices” are still the best ways to prevent flu.

So next time you’re at the pharmacy this flu season, it might be better to save your money and go with a bottle of soap instead.




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Are antiviral tissues worth the extra cost?

  1. I’ve gone back and forth on how bad a future pandemic could ultimately be. Am leaning a bit towards not restricting gene engineering equipment (with sensors and bureaucracy, ex), as we may find treatments, vaccines, prophylaxis, antivirals, cures, antitoxins…for everything, in time.
    I expect a DNA sequencing network (could use insect robots or in body) in the future to transmit the info to a biolab, or the NSA, or whoever, of all aerial materials captured. Preferably the media is destroyed after transmitting the genome, or maybe even some tissue or surface morphologies.
    The databases are to use Quantum Key Encryption and you might not even want to have anyone cleared to access the databases initially. Beneath this QKE is where you would analyze and categorize the raw DNA. WMD data is hidden in with the rest of the bio data pre-QKE. I don’t like the SUA’s apprehensions about drugs. You don’t want zombies or mutants, but you might want to use MRIs or neural probes to tell when your biolab or NSA employees are mentally ill.
    Ideally you would research V/T/C/P/A only when you think it will be used against you (by another actor) in the nearer-future. It is understood the stockpiles must be accumulated in concert with this research (a million in a fridge or mailed or air-dropped). You can use the novel samples to do forensics here, and capture a bioterrorist before success. The sensors are universal for all microbes” hides WMDs, and gives you warning of clandestine labs.

  2. By the clever addition of tiny new ordinary new features having exciting descriptions and grandiose promises, along with packaging that hides the reduction in product count or size, any consumer product can gradually be made more expensive and hence generate more profit. The end result is profit that greatly exceeds the normal general inflation resulting from government funding of military spending. Multiple inflationary pulls then increase all prices by additional factors. While profit is a great motivator at almost all levels of society, it inevitably gets out of hand and causes lots of problems. We need something better than a laissez-faire marketplace to run our economy.

  3. ‘Special’ Kleenex? You could double up the 2- or even 3-ply then wash your hands.
    Talk about a marketing gimmick.

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