Availability Of Overthecounter Sales Data

At present, OTC sales data available for biosurveillance are less detailed and timely than those available within a store due to technical and privacy considerations. At present, OTC sales data are available for biosurveillance as daily counts of sales for each store and for each GTIN. The daily sales figures become available anywhere from 6 am to 3 pm the following day.

At present, market basket and loyalty card indexing of purchases are not available for biosurveillance. These data have immense potential for improving biosurveillance due to their ability to distinguish between purchases made for treatment of infectious disease and purchases made for other reasons (Fienberg and Shmueli, 2005). For example, someone who figure 22.1 This barcode represents the GTIN 00001234567895.The two leading zeros are not explicitly encoded. As discussed in Chapter 32, two leading zeros are added to the Universal Product Code to convert it to a GTIN.

1 The Global Trade Item Number is a new name for the Universal Product Code. See Chapter 32.

Handbook of Biosurveillance ISBN 0-12-369378-0

Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

bought cough syrup and tissues is more likely to have an acute respiratory illness (or an acquaintance or child with respiratory illness) than someone who purchased cough syrup and a pack of cigarettes. The major barrier to obtaining these additional data is the reluctance of retailers to provide the data due to concerns about the volume of data they would have to process on behalf of a biosurveillance organization, proprietary business concerns, and that participation in loyalty card programs may be adversely affected.

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