Exclusive DSN-Brandperx survey measures pediatric cough-cold recommendations


In the United States, colds account for more visits to the doctor than any other condition, according to the American Lung Association. The common culprit behind spreading rhinovirus, the virus behind as many as 40% of all colds, is children — pediatric patients on average suffer from the symptoms of a cold between six and eight times each year. And given how highly contagious many colds are, that may explain why many adults get sick, too.

(To view the full Cough-Cold Report, click here.)

Colds impact adults between two and four times each year. And that’s all adults — not just parents.

Brandperx, in collaboration with Drug Store News, in December surveyed 1,000 pediatricians exclusive to its network regarding the recommendations they share with parents to nip the nasty bugs from the get-go — when their children first come home from school with a cold.

Those pediatricians are making plenty of recommendations. In fact, between September and March — the typical beginning and end points for cough-cold and flu season — not one week goes by where they don’t recommend an OTC cough-cold product for children older than five years of age.

As many as one-third of pediatricians (32.2%) make as many as five recommendations per week in that time span. As many as 26.5% of pediatricians make a cough-cold recommendation as many as 10 times per week, and 14.8% of pediatricians make more than 20 recommendations each week.

The two leading symptoms driving recommendations are cough (94.6%) and fever (78.3%). Sore throat and postnasal drip drive around half of product recommendations, accounting for 50.2% and 48.8% of recommendations, respectively. Sneezing accounted for 37.3% of recommendations.

McNeil Healthcare’s Tylenol, RB’s Delsym and Pfizer’s Robitussin brands are the three most-recommended brands by pediatricians participating in the BrandPerx survey, and that’s reflected in sales. For example, sales of Children’s Tylenol (liquid), which is recommended by pediatricians nearly three-quarters of the time, were up 3.7% to $62.2 million for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 27, 2016 across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI.

Hyland’s 4Kids line of liquid cough products are trending high. One-in-four pediatricians are recommending Hyland’s remedies for children with colds, and brand sales are up 41.4% to $18.2 million, according to IRI data.

The vast majority of pediatricians (83.1%) are recommending products with zero side effects, especially no drowsiness, when considering which products to recommend, the survey found. Approximately two-thirds of pediatricians tend to recommend products that relieve symptoms right away (65.6%) and long-lasting medicines that parents have to administer only once or twice each day (68.3%). And more than half of pediatricians (53.1%) look to recommend natural remedies.

Format plays a major role in determining which products a pediatrician recommends. Apparently, enticing a child to take their cough-cold medicine is akin to pilling a cat. As many as 91.9% of pediatricians take format into consideration when making a recommendation, and 97% of pediatricians recommend a liquid remedy, as opposed to tablets (48.5%) or lozenges (14.1%).

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