Bion 3 Senior launched in Chile

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Last month, Merck KGaA rolled out Bion 3 Senior in Chile. The product – which contains vitamins B, C + D plus minerals, probiotics and ginseng – is a blend specifically tailored to the needs of people aged over 50 years.

The product has previously been advertised on TV using the slogan, “¡Activa tu vitalidad!” (Activate your vitality!), and has also featured in advertorials explaining how the body’s immune function tends to weaken with age.

The latest ad, which came out earlier this month, features a man restoring a motorbike for his mother, who had to give up doing so herself once her son was born. The ad then says “Los soñadores nunca envejecen. Encuentra tu fuerza interior en bion3.cl/senior”, which translates to, “Dreamers never age. Find your inner strength at bion3.cl/senior”. Followed by “Siempre hay tiempo para tus sueños“, meaning “There’s always time for your dreams”.

Nicholas Hall’s report on Healthy Ageing: The Expanding OTC Market for 50+ Consumers explores the existing market for Healthy Ageing OTCs, as well as identifying opportunities for future growth. Taking a detailed look at OTC offerings for 50+ consumers in 12 key markets across the globe, reviewing key brands, sales and strategies, this exclusive report could be groundbreaking for your OTC marketing scheme. For more details, contact ian.crook@NicholasHall.com or CLICK HERE!

American Health Care Act unveiled

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The Trump administration’s long-awaited replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act has now been released. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) was developed in conjunction with the White House and Senate Republicans.

Despite the replacement plan being released, two big questions still remain unanswered. How many people will the plan cover and how much will it cost?

It is likely that the plan will cover fewer people than the Affordable Care Act currently does, but exactly how many has not been specified. The Congressional Budget office has not yet scored the legislation, so the current costs are unknown.

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Early assessment of the replacement act seems to indicate that:

  • Some of Obamacare’s signature features have been entirely eradicated, such as the tax on people who don’t purchase healthcare. Other protections, including the ban on discriminating in regard to people with pre-existing conditions and the provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26, would survive
  • The plan maintains the Medicaid expansion – the Affordable Care Act has expanded Medicaid to cover millions of low-income Americans
  • According to critics, the replacement plan benefits people who are healthy and high-income and disadvantages those who are sick and lower income. The replacement plan would make several changes to what health insurers can charge enrolees who purchase insurance on the individual market, as well as changing what benefits their plans must cover
  • The bill looks a lot more like Obamacare than previous drafts. A curious thing has happened to the Republican replacement plan as it has evolved through multiple drafts; it has begun to look more and more like Obamacare itself.

Nicholas Hall will be bringing his regional conference series to North America in 2017, with our 1st North American OTC Conference, being held in the OTC hub of New Jersey on 27-28 June 2017. You can join us for a gloves-off discussion on how recent political changes in the US will affect future healthcare. Early Bird rates are available until the end of March only! Please contact lianne.hill@NicholasHall.com now to find out more or register your interest.

Are wearables wearing thin?

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The wearables market has had a rollercoaster ride in recent months. This time a year ago analysts were penning multi-billion dollar forecasts for the developers of health trackers and smartwatches. Apple was setting the stakes high, brazenly selling a gold edition of the Apple Watch for US$10,000.

More recently though, once popular fitness tracker brand, Jawbone, confirmed to TechCrunch that it would be leaving the consumer market in order to focus on healthcare providers. Microsoft have also removed its Fitness Band from its online store (although it is still available on Amazon); most significantly they will no longer provide the Band developer kits.

Fitbit remains a leading brand name, and is still very much the heart of the fitness tracker revolution. Fitbit recently acquired one of its rivals, Pebble Watch. However, on the downside, it was reported that the company were making staff cuts and founder James Park said the firm had experienced “softer than expected” sales during the 2016 Christmas period.

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Numerous devices claim to measure heart rate, sleep activity and count calories. Counting steps is seemingly the most common use for wearable devices, which has been edifying for many in terms of daily exercise expectations. Recently, though, experts have questioned whether the golden goal of walking 10,000 steps a day is actually worthwhile, and a US study concluded that health trackers did not aid weight loss.

Mr Bryant from Futuresource says many wearables aren’t yet independent enough and rely on being tethered to a smartphone, or replicate functionality, such as step counting, that the handset already has. However, Mr Bryant believes that while wearables may be down, they are not yet out.

“We feel the slowdown is temporary and the market will accelerate this year,” he said. He thinks that improved power, appearance, and mobile pay options could give them a boost alongside a maturing user group.

Wearable Devices will be one of many themes explored at our 28th Annual OTC INSIGHT European Conference & Action Workshop, being held in Munich in just over a month! The wider conference will focus on the theme of Making the Most of New Technology. To reserve one of our final few places, please contact lianne.hill@NicholasHall.com

New advice says eat 10 fruit & veg per day

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A study by Imperial College London has suggested we should eat 10 portions of fruit & vegetables a day. The study said that such eating habits could prevent 7.8 million premature deaths each year. The study also identified particular fruit & vegetables that reduced the risk of cancer and heart disease.

A portion counts as 80g (3oz) of fruit or vegetables, which is equal to a small banana, a pear, or three heaped tablespoons of spinach or peas. The findings were based on pooled data on 95 separate studies, involving the eating habits of two million people.

Lower risk of cancer was linked to eating green vegetables such as spinach and kale, yellow vegetables and cauliflower. Lower risk of heart disease and strokes was linked to eating apples, pears, citrus fruits and leafy greens.

The results, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, also assessed the risk of dying before your time. Compared with eating no fruit or veg a day, it showed:

  • 200g cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by 13% while 800g cut the risk by 28%
  • 200g cut the risk of cancer by 4%, while 800g cut the risk by 13%
  • 200g cut the risk of a premature death by 15%, while 800g cut the risk by 31%

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The researchers do not know if eating even more fruit & vegetables than the newly suggested 10 portions would have even greater health benefits, as there is little evidence out there to review.

Dr Dagfinn Aune, one of the researchers, said: “Fruit & vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system.” He continued: “This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold, including many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage and lead to a reduction in cancer risk.”

However the study also said that the benefits of this would be hard to integrate as many people struggle to even eat the five a day (400g) which is recommended by the World Health Organization. In the UK, only about one in three people eat this recommended portion, showing the huge potential for VMS marketers in terms of targeting their supplements at people that don’t eat their 10 fruit & veg a day.

Vit D may prevent cold & flu

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“The sunshine vitamin”, also known as vitamin D, is vital for healthy bones and a strong immune system, says an analysis published in the British Medical Journal. This study also suggests that foods should be fortified with the vitamin.

Public Health England (PHE), however, argues that the infections data is not conclusive, although it does recommend the supplements to improve bone and muscle health.

According to the research, the immune system uses vitamin D to make antimicrobial weapons that puncture holes in bacteria and viruses. As vitamin D is made in the skin while out in the sun, many people, particularly in the UK, have low levels during colder seasons.

Trials on using supplements to prevent infections have so far given varied results, so researchers pooled data on 11,321 people from 25 separate trials to try to gain a more conclusive result. The team at Queen Mary University of London looked at respiratory tract infections, which covers a wide range of illnesses from a runny nose to flu to pneumonia.

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The study overall said one person would be spared infection for every 33 taking vitamin D supplements. That is more effective than a flu vaccination, which needs to treat 40 to prevent one case, although flu is far more serious than the common cold.

There were more beneficial results for those taking pills daily or weekly, rather than in monthly super-doses and in people who were lacking vitamin D in the first place. The main purpose of vitamin D supplements is to normalise the level of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are crucial for the growth and maintenance of healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

In extreme cases, low levels of vitamin D can cause rickets in children, where the bones become soft and weak and, in some cases, misshapen as they continue to grow. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, which leads to severe bone pain and muscle aches.

One of the researchers taking party in the study, Professor Adrian Martineau, commented: “Assuming a UK population of 65 million, and that 70% have at least one acute respiratory infection each year, then daily or weekly vitamin D supplements will mean 3.25 million fewer people would get at least one acute respiratory infection a year.”

For more vitamin D developments, please follow this link.

Male Contraceptive Clears Latest Hurdle

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Following recent trials for a hormone-based male contraceptive, another experimental new type of contraceptive, which blocks sperm flow with a gel, has been successful in monkey trials. Vasalgel creates a semi-permeable barrier which, once injected into the vas deferens, prevents sperm from crossing and causes them to be reabsorbed by the body.

The company behind the innovative creation says a two-year trial shows the gel works and is safe in primates. There will hopefully be enough evidence to begin tests in human males within a few years. If these are successful, regulatory approval will be requested to make the gel more extensively available.

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This would be the first new type of male contraceptive to hit the market in many decades. At the moment, men have two main options of contraceptive; to wear a condom to catch the sperm, or have a sterilising operation (vasectomy) to cut or seal the two tubes that carry sperm to the penis from where they are made in the testicles.

Vasalgel has the same end effect as vasectomy, but researchers plan to make the reversal easier and with a higher success rate, should a man later decide he wants to have children. The plans will be that another injection should dissolve the semi-permeable gel barrier, making sperm fertile once again. This worked in early tests in rabbits, but the researchers have yet to prove the same in monkeys and humans.

The non-profit company researching Vasalgel, the Parsemus Foundation, has used grants and fundraising to get this far. Researcher, Professor Pacey commented: “I would imagine there is a worldwide market for a new male contraceptive, but trials in humans and more long-term safety data are required before we will know if it is a success.”

Google Launches “Health Cards” in Australia

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Self-diagnosis can often lead to much panic and anxiety. UK newspaper The Telegraph reported in a 2015 survey that one in four of us choose to self-diagnose on the internet instead of visiting doctors. With OTC products so readily available in numerous regions, self-diagnosis could lead to self-medicating incorrectly.

Last week, Google launched verified medical information in Australian search results, detailing common health complaints such as coughs, infections, rashes and snakebites. However, Australian doctors have warned that while the information might be a conversation starter, it could lead to misdiagnoses and should never replace seeing a specialist.

Google revealed plans to launch Health Cards as part of Google search results in Australia after working on the project with doctors and medical agencies, one of which was the Mayo Clinic. The cards cover the details and symptoms of over 900 health conditions and diseases recommending next steps for concerned sufferers.

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llnesses and concerns featured in Google’s Health Cards will include tonsillitis, coeliac disease and eye infections, with some cards also featuring animated GIFs to demonstrate illnesses. Google Health Cards programme manager Isobel Solaqua said the project was created to address the growing number of medical questions fired at its search engine, stating that: “In fact, one in 20 Google searches are for health-related information … We developed this feature to help people find the health information they need more quickly and easily.”

Australian Medical Association federal vice-president Dr Tony Bartone said users should be “careful not to substitute health information for a qualified medical opinion”. Dr Bartone added that Google’s Health Cards could help patients refine questions for their doctor but medical professionals did not “want to end up with 50 reams of Google pages” brought into consultations.

Online health advice offers us a potential quick fix solution for ongoing health issues, enabling us to ease discomfort and anxiety. Considering this, Google Health Cards will no doubt be a feature that is used and appreciated by many. Though consultants have expressed concerns about confusion and misdiagnosis, is there the potential that this could boost OTC sales and allow people to avoid visiting consultants for minor issues?