Assessing Covid-19’s impact on the VMS industry

CHCINACTION

Despite various countries going into lockdown, governments are still allowing “essential” services and businesses to remain operational, putting the role of the dietary supplements industry in the spotlight. In some countries, like New Zealand, supplement marketers are allowed to maintain their operations as long as they are supplying “essential” businesses, such as pharmacies and supermarkets. However, according to the guidance provided by New Zealand Natural Health Products, health food stores do not fit the description of “essential” businesses.

The situation is similar but more complex in the USA, home to the world’s No.1 VMS market. While essential food and drug suppliers are open for business during Covid-19 restrictions, industry leaders are working to ensure that the same applies to speciality health food stores and cannabis dispensaries. No specific federal regulation is in place, but “essential business” status is being determined at state and local level. While California most decisively classified workers supporting cannabis and dietary supplement retail as essential workers, and Illinois added licensed medical cannabis dispensaries and cultivation centres to its essential healthcare operations list, not all states have set such guidelines.

tanyaconstantine-9834996ea1df40d3ab707d31df8fb3b3.jpg

In a letter to state governors, industry associations including the Consumer Healthcare Products Association urge that supplement supply chains remain open in all states, arguing that now more than ever, consumers need essential nutrients to stay fit and healthy and proactively reduce their risk of chronic diseases without burdening an already overstretched healthcare system. They write: “As each of you plan your own approach to this challenging issue, we respectfully request you mirror White House / Centers for Disease Control & Prevention guidelines and make special accommodation for critical infrastructure industries that specifically include not only conventional foods but all subcategories of food, including dietary supplements, infant formulas, medical foods and spices & flavours.”

As for how the Covid-19 crisis will affect the VMS market, it’s clear that some categories stand to benefit more than others. Herbal & natural immune stimulants and vitamin C supplements are likely to see the biggest boost, as long as supply chains can be maintained. In certain markets, such as India and China, there is likely to be a rise in sales of country-specific natural remedies (Ayurvedic medicine and TCM) positioned for immunity support, though marketers will have to be wary of government clampdowns on products that are claimed to prevent or cure Covid-19.

For a full analysis of Covid-19’s impact on the global CHC market, pick up a copy of our all-new Hot Topic review Coronavirus 2020 and its potential impact on CHC from Nicholas Hall’s CIMA division. Buyers of this report will also receive a situation update in six months time. For more information, or to purchase your copy, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

e-Commerce Developing Fast in Southern Europe

CHCINACTION

As more and more countries go into lockdown to enforce social distancing, the way that consumers do their shopping is of course having to change dramatically. Some countries are better adapted to this change than others – according to a recent report in the Financial Times, southern European countries like Italy and Spain currently only have low e-Commerce penetration, with respective shares of 4% and 5% of total retail revenues (prior to the Covid-19 pandemic).

France (10%) has a higher share than the two countries at its southern border, but still lags behind other markets in Europe (20% in the UK) and globally (36% in China). However, this situation looks set to change fast, with Covid-19 leading to a revolution in e-Commerce sales of groceries in southern Europe – for example, according to the FT report, supermarket chain Carrefour stated that its online customer base in Italy has already doubled to 110,000. Is this a trend that will outlast the current crisis?

Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 12.14.41.png

And what impact will Covid-19 have on online sales of consumer healthcare products? Our recently published Digital Marketing & e-Commerce Report outlined the Top 20 leading internal & mail order markets for CHC products, with China and the USA the clear leaders, followed by Japan, Germany and the UK. Inevitably, the projected growth rates for 2020 will have to be revised, especially given this fast-changing crisis could also lead to changes in regulations governing the online sale of OTC medicines.

For example, Europe’s largest e-Commerce pharmacy group, Zur Rose, today submitted a request to Switzerland’s Federal Office for Public Health calling for a temporary exception that would allow mail order sales of OTC cold & flu medicines (at present, all non-prescription medicines can only be sold by mail order if specifically approved by a doctor). As well as owning Germany’s best-known pharmacy brand, DocMorris, Zur Rose is also active in France and Spain, and could be at the forefront of overcoming strict regulations governing the sale of OTC-registered medicines in those markets too.

For an in-depth look at the rising power of e-Commerce in the CHC market, order a copy of Digital Marketing & e-Commerce: Tapping the Potential of Online Sales and Digital Promotion in Consumer HealthcareThis report also explores social media, which CHC brands are employing effective digital marketing strategies, and the opportunities and challenges e-Pharma faces. For further details, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

Covid-19: France advises against ibuprofen to treat symptoms

CHCINACTION

France’s Health Minister Olivier Véran delivered a message via his Twitter account over the weekend, advising against taking anti-inflammatory medicines (ibuprofen, cortisone, etc) to treat Covid-19 symptoms, as they could be an aggravating factor for the infection. His advice for those with a fever was to take paracetamol instead. Patients already on anti-inflammatory drugs for other illnesses, or anyone with any questions, are advised to seek advice from their doctor.

Public health interventions like this, with directives specifically citing which OTC medicines to take or not take, are rare and so the story was picked up by major news outlets in the UK (Guardian), USA (New York Times) and elsewhere. According to a report in The Local, Véran’s tweet prompted several members of the public to ask for the source of his reasoning on not taking ibuprofen to treat Covid-19 symptoms.

This is not the first time France has warned against the use of systemic NSAIDs. In April 2019, the country’s medicines body, ANSM, warned that certain anti-inflammatories to treat pain or fever increase the risk of serious complications when suffering from an infection; the regulator shared information with European counterparts on the basis of what it said were 337 cases of infectious complications linked to ibuprofen since 2000.

Reaction to the latest comments has been mixed. Several countries suggested consumers continue to take their preferred pain reliever, including ibuprofen, while some health experts pointed out the lack of published scientific evidence that the virus is worsened by ibuprofen (WHO is silent on the point). Some NSAIDs have previously been contra-indicated in certain countries for other viral infections such as dengue fever (because they may exacerbate internal bleeding), but that may not be relevant to Covid-19. At present, we all await further clarification.

Where will NPD take the CHC market in the future? Find out in our upcoming report, Innovation in CHC: NPD & Innovation in CHC under the Spotlight! This report, drawing on Nicholas Hall’s CHC New Products Tracker, assesses the global picture of CHC innovation in 2019, featuring ingredient trends, delivery format trends, analysing innovation trends by region and by marketer, plus much more! To pre-order your copy and save with the pre-publication discount, or for more information, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

Covid-19: France advises against ibuprofen to treat symptoms

CHCINACTION

France’s Health Minister Olivier Véran delivered a message via his Twitter account over the weekend, advising against taking anti-inflammatory medicines (ibuprofen, cortisone, etc) to treat Covid-19 symptoms, as they could be an aggravating factor for the infection. His advice for those with a fever was to take paracetamol instead. Patients already on anti-inflammatory drugs for other illnesses, or anyone with any questions, are advised to seek advice from their doctor.

Public health interventions like this, with directives specifically citing which OTC medicines to take or not take, are rare and so the story was picked up by major news outlets in the UK (Guardian), USA (New York Times) and elsewhere. According to a report in The Local, Véran’s tweet prompted several members of the public to ask for the source of his reasoning on not taking ibuprofen to treat Covid-19 symptoms. The main concern appears to be that anti-inflammatories have an “immunosuppressive effect“, plus the background in France is that medicines agency ANSM has already removed medicines containing paracetamol, ibuprofen and / or aspirin from the self-selection list in January 2020 to reinforce the advisory role of the pharmacist and guarantee safe use.

81eQ4AfKNML._AC_SL1500_.jpg

Meanwhile, the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on sales and availability of painkillers in other markets is already becoming evident, with UK retailer Boots imposing a limit of two items per customer on cough & cold and pain medicines and US marketer J&J reporting a spike in demand for its Tylenol range and other self-care products. In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, and India’s decision last week to restrict the export of some ingredients (including paracetamol), there have been fears of shortages and disruptions to supply chains, but J&J said it did not anticipate a shortage of Tylenol and that it was taking all possible measures to maximise availability of its consumer healthcare range.

The good news is that we have extended the campaign entry criteria and deadline for our 2020 Marketing Awards! Coinciding with the new event dates, the Awards will now be presented on 30 September during our 31st European Conference in Athens on 29 September–1 October 2020. If you’re proud of your latest campaign or brand, ensure that you enter before the new deadline of 14 August! For more information on entry criteria, contact jennifer.odonnell@NicholasHall.com without delay.

Assessing Covid-19’s impact on the events and CHC industry

CHCINACTION

Seven weeks after we first covered the news of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in China in this blog, it is now very clear that the rapid spread of Covid-19 is having an increasing impact on economies, industries and businesses worldwide. Workers in many countries are being urged to self-isolate if they experience symptoms, while pharma players, including Mylan, which reported FY 2019 results last week, see a potential impact on their finances. Companies such as Sanofi, GSK, Nestle and L’Oreal are either telling employees to avoid business travel or postpone trips.

Airline shares are in freefall and the global events industry is being hit particularly hard, with organisers cancelling or postponing numerous conferences and trade exhibitions; New Hope Network (Informa) posted the following on its website: “The many conversations, emails, text messages and social media posts that [we have] engaged with since we communicated the hard decision to postpone 2020 Natural Products Expo West due to the Covid-19 situation tell us that many in the natural & organic products community seem to be breathing a sigh of relief.” However, it will not be alone in asking: “What’s next?”

Screen Shot 2020-03-06 at 15.22.20.png

Nicholas Hall Writes: We have taken the painful decision to postpone our flagship Athens meeting from late April to 29th September-1st October. For delegates who roll over their bookings, and for new delegates, we are offering a live-streamed Global Trends presentation / Q&A based on the latest DB6 data at 10:00 CET on 29th April, which under happier circumstances would have been the start of the Athens conference. Full details of this and the postponed conference dates will be circulated soon. I look forward to e-meeting many of you on 29th April and greeting you in person in Athens in September, by which time we hope to be cleared by the Chief Medical Officer to start the meeting in the traditional Nicholas Hall Family way with handshakes all round. I’m truly looking forward to “business as usual”.

Our new Hot Topic report puts the Covid-19 pandemic in context. My colleague Nina Monk tells me that the coronavirus outbreak is currently in a containment phase, although it is likely that individual countries will shortly begin implementing mitigation / treatment programmes as person-to-person transmission within infected communities increases. This will affect where people go to seek treatment (hospital vs pharmacy) and what treatment is given (Rx vs OTC). The impact on the CHC market is already becoming apparent with sales of antiseptics & disinfectants, antibacterial hand gels, face masks, immune-boosting supplements and OTC antivirals all seeing significant spikes in sales.

Unlike SARS, which was more severe but relatively short-lived, Covid-19 is likely to drag on into the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere, when the warmer weather may lessen its virulence. The likely impact on the global CHC market is hard to judge, but in China sales at point-of-sale could be down by the equivalent of one full trading month this year. e-Commerce will benefit, although there will be disruption of all stages of the supply chain. 

Examine the potential impact of coronavirus on our industry in a Hot Topic review from our CIMA division, which is published today. To purchase your copy of Coronavirus 2020 and its Potential Impact on CHC, or for more information, please contact the CIMA General Manager, nina.monk@NicholasHall.com.

Combination OTC painkillers gaining ground

CHCINACTION

Following the approved switch of Voltaren Arthritis Pain by the FDA in mid-February, there was more positive news for GSK’s US analgesics portfolio over the weekend with the FDA approval of Advil Dual Action. This is the first FDA-approved OTC combination of ibuprofen and paracetamol (acetaminophen) in the USA, and GSK is expected to launch the product later this year.

Franck Riot, Head of R&D at GSK Consumer Healthcare, said: “For decades, many consumers have been using ibuprofen and acetaminophen (paracetamol) to get the benefits of both active ingredients when safely treating their headaches, muscle aches, backaches, arthritis and other joint pain. Now Advil, the No. 1 selling OTC pain reliever, will offer US consumers the first-ever alternative option – a single, fixed-dose combination pain reliever.” According to the reported clinical research, this fixed-dose combination achieves superior efficacy compared to the individual monocomponents of ibuprofen (250mg) and acetaminophen (500mg) alone.

dolostop plus

Dolostop Plus, another recent combination launch

Another combination OTC painkiller we tracked recently, formulated with both ibuprofen and paracetamol, is Kern’s September 2019 launch of Dolostop Plus in Spain. Indicated to provide symptomatic relief from mild to moderate pain in adults, these film-coated tablets are formulated with paracetamol 500mg and ibuprofen 150mg, with a stated dose of 1-2 tablets every 6 hours, and claimed to be the first and only OTC paracetamol and ibuprofen combination available in Spain.

In several markets around the world, such as the UK, Russia, Japan and Indonesia, combination paracetamol + ibuprofen OTC remedies are already well-established, but these recent developments in the USA and Spain point to growing acceptance among global regulators about the safety of fixed-dose OTC analgesic combinations.

Where will NPD take the CHC market in the future? Find out in our upcoming report, Innovation in CHC: NPD & Innovation in CHC under the Spotlight! This report, drawing on Nicholas Hall’s CHC New Products Tracker, assesses the global picture of CHC innovation in 2019, featuring ingredient trends, delivery format trends, analysing innovation trends by region and by marketer, plus much more! To pre-order your copy and save with the pre-publication discount, or for more information, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

Europe at the Heart of Probiotics Innovation

CHCINACTION

Three probiotics deals have been signed in the past week, all involving European companies, which remain at the heart of driving innovation in this fast-growing consumer health sector. AxisBiotix, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UK life sciences company SkinBioTherapeutics, has signed an agreement with Dutch-based probiotics specialist Winclove to design a probiotic blend based on the modifying properties of specific bacterial species on psoriasis disease pathways. This will be developed into a probiotic food supplement called AxisBiotix.

SkinBioTherapeutics is responsible for the identification and selection of the bacterial strains and patient testing; Winclove is responsible for the formulation and manufacturing. “There is strong scientific evidence pointing to a link between gut dysfunction, stress-induced alterations to the gut microbiome and skin inflammation,” said SkinBioTherapeutics CEO, Stuart Ashman. “We believe that in this partnership … we can create a specific probiotic food supplement that has the potential to help manage the hard-to-treat symptoms of psoriasis.”

SkinBioTherapeutics

Meanwhile, Danish probiotics specialist Chr Hansen has signed a contract with Teijin to sell ingredients for health food and infant formulas in Japan. Under the agreement, Teijin will market six probiotic products, including BB-12 (Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. Lactis) for gastrointestinal balance and immune support, and Urex (Lactobacillus reuteri [RC-14] + Lactobacillus rhamnosus [GR-1]), which increases lactic acid bacteria for vaginal health. Teijin will leverage know-how and technical support from Chr Hansen and both will jointly develop marketing initiatives. While this marks Teijin’s entry into the field of probiotic ingredients, the company already markets prebiotics. Seeing functional foods as a core part of its healthcare strategy moving forwards, Teijin plans to develop more prebiotic and probiotic ingredients and expand its product line-up.

Finally, Serbian-based Beopanax has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Taiwan’s Bened Biomedical to bring its flagship psychobiotic probiotic strain to new territories, including Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia and Albania. The launch of Second Brain, a sachet containing 30bn CFU of Lactobacillus plantarum PS128 to help improve mental and emotional health, is slated for Q1 2020. Bened is also targeting expansion in CIS countries.

Probiotics & prebiotics is highlighted as one of 8 sectors driving consumer healthcare innovation in our upcoming report, Innovation in CHC: NPD & Innovation in CHC under the Spotlight. Drawing on Nicholas Hall’s CHC New Products Tracker, this all-new title from Nicholas Hall’s Reports takes an in-depth look at 100 key CHC innovations in 2019, and picks out some of the most prominent delivery format and ingredient trends in the consumer healthcare industry. Please contact Melissa.Lee@NicholasHall.com to find out more, or to purchase your copy and save with the early-bird discount!