No switch? No problem. OTC sales strong


Sales of OTC medicines continued on a strong growth trajectory of more than 3%, growing by approximately $1.4 billion in dollar volume to $45.6 billion for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 2, according to IRI data. And that’s primarily organic growth from existing brands; there were no big Rx-to-OTC switches driving the kind of gangbuster growth as there were in each of the two years prior.

(To view the full OTC Trend Report, click here.)

Perhaps the biggest non-switch, new product was GSK Consumer Healthcare’s Theraflu ExpressMax, which replicates the warming experience of the original Theraflu Hot Liquid Powder and offers a caplet alternative to the company’s Theraflu ExpressMax Syrups. Now, coming into its second cough-cold season, Theraflu ExpressMax generated $29.9 million in sales in the past year.

Another GSK Consumer Healthcare product, the nasal corticosteroid Flonase, is still the biggest contributor to overall OTC category growth as compared with all brands. For the 52 weeks ended Oct. 2, the brand has amassed $344 million in sales on 51% growth across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI.

And GSK Consumer Healthcare isn’t done. The company plans to line-extend its Flonase franchise with another switch product called Flonase Sensimist following the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Veramyst as an OTC remedy. It will be the company’s second switch in three years, and represents significant momentum for GSK Consumer Healthcare behind its OTC allergy franchise.

Nasal corticosteroids have become a mainstay in the allergy aisles, collectively generating more than $500 million in sales between Chattem’s Nasacort, Flonase, McNeil Consumer’s Rhinocort and Bayer’s ClariSpray. And they haven’t cannibalized traditional allergy tablet sales, which are still growing — McNeil’s Zyrtec ($346.4 million, up 2.5%), Bayer’s Claritin ($237.1 million, up 3%), Chattem’s Allegra ($219.6 million, up 6.1%) and McNeil’s Benadryl ($150.2 million, up 3.9%).

While that’s nothing to sneeze at, allergy won’t be the only factor driving OTC sales higher headed into 2017. The top five brands that generated the most sales — Advil ($494.6 million), Poise ($443.4 million), Depend ($377.3 million), Nature Made vitamins ($365.3 million) and Ensure ($360.1 million) — all are reflective of an aging baby boomer who’s contending with painful bones and joints and incontinence, but who is still looking to promote better health through the use of letter vitamins and nutritional ready-to-drink products.

The oldest baby boomers are reaching 70 this year. All told, there are 46.2 million seniors in the United States, representing 14.5% of the total population. However, they account for more than 30% of OTC purchases, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. And 3-in-4 adults older than 55 years of age take a dietary supplement on a regular basis, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s 2016 Consumer Survey — that’s the most of any demographic.

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