New Advance In Wearables

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A new soft, flexible microfluidic device sticks on forearm or back skin to measure sweat and show how the body is responding to exercise. The small, simple, low cost device analyses key biomarkers to help a person decide quickly if any adjustments, such as drinking more water or replenishing electrolytes, is needed, or if something is medically wrong.

It is designed for one-time use of a few hours and features a number of innovations including:

• The ability to capture, store and analyse sweat in situ and in real time
• Can quantitatively determine biomarker levels using colorimetric analysis
• A power source is not required to display the results; instead, a smartphone camera and app are used to read the biomarker change

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The device’s sensitivity even enables it to pick up the biomarker for cystic fibrosis and it is hoped that in future it may be used more broadly for disease diagnosis.

Study leader John A. Rogers, professor of materials science and engineering, discussed the device: “The intimate skin interface created by this wearable, skin-like microfluidic system enables new measurement capabilities not possible with the kinds of absorbent pads and sponges currently used in sweat collection.”

The team have studied the efficacy of the device in two groups of cyclists and found it to be both accurate compared to conventional lab analysis and durable in unpredictable environmental conditions. Their findings were published on 23rd November in Science Translational Medicine.

Q3 Results Reveal USA Slowdown

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The Q3 2016 results are now available on Nicholas Hall’s DB6 database, and the trend information will soon be updated on the OTC DASHBOARD website. In this week’s blog, we take a closer look at the latest growth trends for the Top 20 OTC markets in the world.

Overall, the global OTC market performed steadily in Q3 2016 with a 4.3% rise, the same growth rate as we saw in Q2 2016. However, this performance can be seen as mediocre compared to the full-year 2015 period, when OTC sales were up by 5.5%.

The global No.1 market, USA, showed signs of deceleration in Q3, with sales up by only 2.2%. This is largely owing to the slowing down of sales for major switches, such as Flonase allergy remedy and Pfizer’s Nexium 24HR antacid. That said, the USA should enjoy an upturn in the new year with switches such as GSK’s Flonase Sensimist (allergy remedy) and Galderma’s Differin Gel (acne remedy) in the pipeline. Compared to other categories, Lifestyle OTCs in the USA showed continued dynamism in Q3 2016, with sales up by a steady 5.0%; this was owing in part to double-digit growth for obesity treatments (+43.4%).

China’s growth also continued to lose steam in Q3 2016, where sales were up by 6.0%. China’s OTC market continues to grow year-on-year, but in recent years growth has gradually slowed; this is considered to be owing to a weaker economy, new regulations and also the crackdown on MNCs and domestic companies. Weaker growth overall in Q3 came despite continued growth for analgesics, which were up by 8.4%, making it the most dynamic OTC category in China, thanks to high levels of innovation and advertising in this area.

In Q3, growth also weakened in Japan and Europe as a result of low levels of Rx-to-OTC switch activity and weak cough, cold & allergy growth in early 2016. Italy was an exception to sluggish growth in Europe, where sales of OTCs were up by 3.5%; this was thanks to strong growth for Lifestyle OTCs (+11.1%), with a particularly dynamic performance from emergency hormonal contraceptives, sales of which rose by 226%.

Latin America remains the strongest performing region, with growth up by 15%. This is thanks to significant growth from Venezuela, up by 39% in Q3, owing to high levels of inflation. Despite a tough economic climate in Brazil, the OTC market remains robust with sales up by 9.5%, as a result of increased awareness of health and wellbeing.

Elsewhere in Q3 2016, India’s growth accelerated with sales up by 9.5%, owing to a strong performance from gastrointestinals (+10.3%). Turkey also performed well with growth up by 6.8%, thanks to VMS sales and a strong upturn for Lifestyle OTCs.

New Test Launched in European HIV Testing Week

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In its fourth year, and the second time hepatitis testing has been included, European HIV Testing Week is currently in action. Starting on 18th November, and finishing a week later, testing week is spanning the length and breadth of the continent with partners participating from over 50 European countries.

Prior to this, the world’s fastest HIV self-test kit went on sale last week in order to relieve pressure on overcrowded sexual health clinics.

bioLytical Laboratories, renowned for their production of rapid infectious disease tests, has developed the INSTI HIV Self Test, following research revealing that over 103,000 people are living with HIV in the UK and an estimated 18,100 remain unaware of their positive status.

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It was reported recently that funding cuts have resulted in clinic closures across the country meaning the pressure is on for remaining clinics. Failure to fund routine testing in GP surgeries is leading to late diagnosis when early treatment of the disease is highly beneficial.

With one prick to a finger and a droplet of blood, the INSTI HIV Self Test provides immediate results and is over 99% accurate. Other home testing kits can take up to 20 minutes to produce a result, and in some cases laboratory test results can take several days or weeks.

The INSTI HIV Self Test kit also includes a resource card on where to seek help or for those who have general questions on HIV screening.

The test is available now online at www.INSTI-HIVSelfTest.com and costs €29.95 (£25.95) per kit.

J&J Focuses On Consumer Innovation In Africa

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As part of its ongoing commitment to Africa, J&J has announced the launch of the Africa Innovation Challenge. The project will support Africa’s growing ecosystem and help develop consumer health solutions for local towns.

Earlier this year, J&J announced its global public health strategy in Cape Town, South Africa. The operations expand upon the company’s presence in Africa, which began in 1936.

“Our goal is to improve the health and wellbeing of families and communities around the world,” said Josh Ghaim, J&J’s Chief Technology Officer, Consumer R&D. “With its focus on consumer healthcare, the Africa Innovation Challenge will help to surface important issues impacting local communities. We look forward to engaging with the continent’s top entrepreneurs and scientists, and through collaboration, helping advance their ideas and bringing meaningful solutions across three very important healthcare areas.”

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The Africa Innovation Challenge seeks ideas focused on three critical health areas, promoting early child development and maternal health; empowering young women; and improving family wellbeing.

Challenge participants with successful solutions will receive up to US$100,000 in funding and mentorship from scientists, engineers and researchers in the J&J Consumer Research & Development organisation.

The news of J&J’s latest innovative challenge comes alongside the recent decision to drop ‘McNeil’ from their OTC business name, opting for J&J Consumer instead.

To apply to the challenge and review the applicable terms and conditions, please visit the Africa Innovation Challenge website. The deadline to submit applications is 17th January 2017.

OTC DASHBOARD is your sole Nicholas Hall & Company source of regular updates on the OTC market in Africa and the Middle East. Explore our Rest of World section for the latest content.

Male Contraceptive Has Moderate Trial Success

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The next frontier of sexual liberation is close – the male contraceptive is almost here!

For decades now, scientists have been progressively working towards developing birth control for men, and the recent news that the injected male contraceptive is now just as effective as its female counterpart is groundbreaking.

In a trial of 320 men, aged between 18 and 45, researchers found that, over a one-year period, a new hormone-based injection was 96% effective in preventing pregnancy.

The hormones injected into the men on the trial were shown to dramatically lower their sperm count by “switching off” the male reproductive system.

The drugs did however cause some unpleasant side-effects, meaning that the trial had to be halted early. Of the 320 participants, 20 experienced mood swings, depression, muscle pain and acne. Despite this, 75% of the participants said they would be happy to take the male contraceptive on a regular basis.

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Richard Anderson, a professor of clinical reproductive science and author of the study, said: “If you’re comparing it to other reversible male methods, it’s far better than the condom and it puts it in the same ballpark as the pill.”

The male contraceptive is not the only new and innovative form of protection that is set to be on offer. The predominantly male condom is now available in female form. The disposable contraceptive device, which is marketed by The Female Health Company, is the only female condom approved by the US FDA and cleared by the World Health Organization.

The condom provides dual protection against unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, offering what it claims to be a thoroughly safe sexual experience for both parties.

British Columbia Pharmacists Could Provide Abortion Pills

The British Columbia College of Pharmacists has been working with Canada’s Department of Health to make the combination of mifepristone and misoprostol (for the termination of a developing intra-uterine pregnancy up to a gestational age of 49 days) available directly from a pharmacist.

The product, Mifegymiso (Linepharma International), was approved by Health Canada in 2015, and was placed on the Prescription Drug List (PDL). The provincial drug schedules also classified the two ingredients as prescription drugs (requiring a physician’s intervention).

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The College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. and the College of Pharmacists of B.C. have been working behind the scenes for months to find a way to circumvent the federal drug regulator’s plan for physician-only dispensing of Mifegymiso. Abortion advocates say that because most doctors’ offices are not equipped to act as miniature pharmacies, the dispensing requirement is likely to discourage physicians.

It seems that the intention may be to work around the regulations, though this may not be well received by federal regulators. Health Canada also advised that working around the regulations would have an impact on the liability of pharmacists.

Mifepristone has been approved in more than 60 countries, including the United States, where it has been available since 2000. Canada did not approve the drug until July 2015, and manufacturing issues have since delayed its sale.

AOMRC release list of 40 treatments that bring little or no benefit to patients

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The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has released a list of over 40 treatments that bring little or no benefit to patients. The list is part of a campaign to reduce the number of unnecessary medical treatments.

Medical experts from 11 different specialties were asked to identify five treatments or procedures commonly used in their field that were not always necessary or valuable.

These have been used as part of the Choose Wisely campaign to highlight the need for patients and doctors to talk frankly about how health issues should be treated.

The advice suggests:

  • Tap water is just as good for cleaning cuts and grazes as saline solution
  • Small wrist fractures in children do not normally need a plaster cast, and will heal just as quickly with a removable splint
  • Children with bronchiolitis, or breathing problems, usually get better without treatment
  • Electronic monitoring of a baby’s heart is only needed during labour if the mother has a higher-than-normal risk of complications
  • Chemotherapy may be used to relieve symptoms of terminal cancer but it cannot cure the disease and may well bring further distress in the final months of life
  • Routine screening for prostate conditions using a test known as a Prostate Specific Antigen, or PSA test, does not lead to longer life and can bring unnecessary anxiety

ss_18694507_broken_arm_castThe Academy says there is evidence that patients often pressure doctors into prescribing or carrying out unnecessary treatments and the NHS is also coming under increasing pressure to reduce over-medicalisation – in other words the medicines and treatments it prescribes.

Alongside this list, for some time now, GPs have also been advised to cut back on prescribing antibiotics to patients. This will surely be a driver in the OTC market as patients may turn to self-medication if they are unable to get what they require under prescription.