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Antacids drive dollars as PPIs open to store-brand competition


NEW YORK — Last month, the last of the branded proton-pump inhibitors was opened to store-brand competition as Perrigo brought a Nexium 24HR equivalent to market. Speaking with analysts, Perrigo president and CEO John Hendrickson expected private label to grab at least a 25% share of the $300 million in Nexium 24HR sales. “It’s been three years without having a store-brand equivalent to Nexium,” Hendrickson said. “We have the other PPIs in our portfolio, but not that.”

That doesn’t bode well for the gastrointestinal tablet category, which was relatively flat with a slight decline of 0.6% to $3.2 billion across multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 13, according to IRI. No more PPIs are expected to switch, which means that growth pipeline is no longer available.

GSK Consumer Healthcare’s Tums antacid business has historically performed counterintuitively to the category. With each new antacid advancement that’s brought to market — from H2 blockers to PPIs — sales of the immediate-relief calcium carbonate antacid continue to grow. And this year is no exception, sales of Tums totaled $70.5 million for the period, up 25.5%, while sales of the premium-positioned Tums Smoothies were up 10.6% to $55.9 million.

Sales of McNeil Consumer’s Imodium AD tablets were up 48.9% to $41.6 million in the period. Late last year, McNeil successfully defended its Imodium AD patent against store-brand competition.

Reformulation sparks sales resurgence

Bayer also is realizing a sales resurgence of its Alka-Seltzer brand in the digestives aisle, following a reformulation of the brand that was introduced this spring. Sales of the brand were up 53% to $25.9 million. “The reformulation is based on the consumer trend moving toward single-indication products, [treating] upset stomach and heartburn,” Andre Schmidt, U.S. medical affairs VP for Bayer Consumer Health, told Drug Store News.

The liquid side of the gastrointestinal business looks more promising. Overall, sales of $1 billion were up 2.1%, with brand leader Miralax up slightly by 1.2% to $201.5 million and Pepto Bismol up 5% to $93.1 million.

Long-term brand building

A brand to watch is Prestige Brands’ recently acquired Fleet line of laxatives. Sales of Fleet tablets were flat for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 13, with $25.4 million, and the Fleet liquid formulations were down slightly by 1.5% to $20.5 million. But the brand is about to get an infusion of advertising and support from its new parent. “Its overall business performance in our first full quarter of ownership was in line with our expectations, and included strong 7% revenue growth,” Ron Lombardi, president and CEO of Prestige Brands, recently told investors. “Our priorities for Fleet are now shifting into long-term brand building and incremental supply chain opportunities,” he said. “Fleet was in a bit of a better shape in terms of the things that they had in their pipeline when we acquired the business, but we’re going to come at it with a much longer view and a much bigger investment opportunity than the previous owners.”


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