Alibaba and Walmart report strong Q2

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Our blog this week rounds up the latest retail news, including recent Q2 results from Walmart and Alibaba, and a focus on M&A activity in Asia-Pacific. China’s Alibaba trumped analysts’ expectations with a 42% year-on-year jump in quarterly revenues to Rmb114.92bn (US$16.3bn), contrasting with its rival Tencent which one day earlier disappointed the market by falling short with a more modest quarterly growth (though Tencent did report a 26% year-on-year increase in profit).

Alibaba’s CEO, Daniel Zhang, said the company “had a great quarter, expanding our user base to 674mn annual active consumers, and demonstrating our superior user experience. We will continue to expand our customer base, increase operating efficiency and deliver robust growth. With strong cashflow from our core e-commerce business, we will continue to invest in technology and bring digital transformation to millions of businesses globally.” 

Alibaba is also reportedly looking to acquire Kaola’s cross-border online shopping platform from rival NetEase, according to two people familiar with the matter, as China’s highly competitive US$2tn e-commerce market takes early steps towards consolidation.  

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Meanwhile, Walmart has raised its outlook for the USA and said US consumers were in “solid” financial health as it shrugged off the Trump administration’s trade war with Beijing and turmoil elsewhere in bricks-and-mortar retail. Walmart revenues rose by 1.8% in fiscal Q2 2020 to US$130bn (+2.9% on a constant currency basis). USA sales were US$85.2bn (+2.9%) and the retailer noted that it is gaining market share in key categories, including health & wellness; e-commerce sales grew by 37%. International sales fell by 1.1% to US$29.1bn (+3.3% excluding currency impacts). Strength in Mexican subsidiary Walmex and China were offset by softness in UK and Canada. 

In Brazil, No.1 drugstore chain RaiaDrogasil (RD) reported better than expected results, seeing its national share rise to 13% in Q2 2019 (up 1.6% vs Q2 2018). Another drugstore chain quickly gaining share in Brazil is Farmarcas, which looks set to become the No.4 ranked chain by end-2019 after reporting even stronger results than RD, putting pressure on established players Drogaria DPSP and Pague Menos.

As for M&A activity:

• In Japan, drugstore operator Cocokara Fine is pursuing a merger with rival Matsumotokiyoshi in a deal that could create a market leader with sales of around ¥1tn (US$9.4bn)

• Amazon, which is looking to boost its bricks & mortar presence in the fast-growing Indian market, is reportedly in advanced talks to acquire up to 10% of Future Retail, the country’s No.2 retailer

• AS Watson (an affiliate of CK Hutchison Holdings) is in talks with potential partners in UAE with a view to introducing its health & beauty stores there

Take a look at the evolution of Pharmacy and Pharmacy Point-of-Care in the Distribution chapter in our new report, Nicholas Hall’s New Paradigms for CHC 2019: Over the Horizon, written by Nicholas himself! Other chapters will include Healthcare Trends, Regulation, Digital engagement amongst many others. Nicholas will also unveil the 15 “Infinity Zones” he has identified as being crucial to the future growth of the industry. You can upgrade your purchase to include a customised in-house presentation or webinar with Nicholas for an additional GB£10,000. To find out more or to pre-order your copy, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

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Gottlieb calls for action on “CBD craze”

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In an opinion piece for the Washington Post entitled, “The CBD craze is getting out of hand. The FDA needs to act“, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb described many of cannabidiol’s purported benefits, from cancer to depression treatment, as “fanciful” and said the FDA must act now to ensure “commercial interests don’t strip away any legitimate value the compound might have.”

Pointing to the potential risks of CBD use (i.e. damage to the liver at high doses), and the misperception that the 2018 US farm bill “legalised” CBD, Gottlieb suggests the best way forward is a legal pathway based on an “efficient regulatory process and sound science”. Recently, the FDA sent a warning letter to Curaleaf about “unsubstantiated” claims on its website and social media accounts linking CBD with cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.

In response to Gottlieb’s opinion piece, Steve Mister, President & CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), said his organisation aligned with the FDA on the need to establish a “clear and legal pathway forward”, but said that CBD’s status as a dietary supplement does not necessitate legislation, nor a “multiyear process requiring FDA to gather safety data on CBD”.

In an article for Whole Foods Magazine, Mister is quoted as saying that the “FDA has the authority to make cannabidiol a supplement under DSHEA [The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994], even though it’s already been studied as a drug.” Mister envisages a future in which CBD can be sold as both a drug and a supplement, and that is certainly how Nicholas Hall also sees the market evolving in his newly published New Paradigms report.

CBD is one of the topics in our new report, Nicholas Hall’s New Paradigms for CHC 2019: Over the Horizon, personally written by Nicholas himself! Focusing on a wide range of major issues surrounding the CHC Market, including Innovation, Distribution, Digital Engagement, Competition and much more, this is an essential read for all players striving to compete in this evolving marketplace. In addition to this, you can upgrade your purchase to include a customised in-house presentation or webinar with Nicholas. To find out more or to place your order, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

Pfizer-GSK j-v approved, Pfizer-Mylan to close mid-2020

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At the end of last week, it was announced that GSK and Pfizer have closed their j-v, combining the groups’ respective consumer healthcare businesses to create the world’s largest CHC company. According to the latest MAT Q1 2019 data (see table below), this new entity – which will operate globally as GSK Consumer Healthcare – will become the standout No.1, increasing its global share from around 4% to roughly 7%, though of course divestitures will be necessary. Those already identified include ThermaCare (by the EU authorities) and Pfizer’s antacid tablet business (by the Brazil authorities), while some OTC brands (like Viagra Connect) will stay with Pfizer.

As previously announced, under the deal Pfizer owns a 32% equity stake in the j-v and GSK owns 68%. The combined company, which will be led by CEO Brian McNamara, will take leadership positions in pain relief, respiratory, VMS and therapeutic oral health. The new business will also hold the No.1 CHC spot in the USA and the No.2 position in China. As part of the agreement, Pfizer has appointed three of the nine members of the j-v’s board. GSK intends to separate the j-v as an independent company via a demerger of its equity interest to its shareholders and will list it on the UK equity market.

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In the same week, Pfizer announced plans to enter into a definitive agreement to combine Upjohn, its off-patented branded and generics business, with Mylan. The new company, which will be renamed and rebranded when the transaction closes (expected mid-2020), will expand the capabilities of both Mylan and Pfizer across 165+ markets. Mylan brings a diverse portfolio across many geographies and key therapeutic areas, while Upjohn brings iconic brands such as Lipitor, Celebrex and Viagra and leadership positions in China and other emerging markets.

The combination will drive a diverse portfolio of Rx medicines, complex generics, OTCs and biosimilars. It will be based in the USA and led by Mylan’s current Chairman Robert Coury, who will serve as Executive Chairman. Pfizer shareholders will own 57% of the new company and Mylan shareholders will own 43%. The new company is expected to have pro forma 2020 revenues of US$19bn-20bn.  

Commenting on the deal, Nicholas Hall said: “The new company will be a top CHC player, owing to Mylan’s 17th ranking, plus the Viagra Connect business and sundry other Pfizer CHC brands that didn’t go into the GSK j-v. That could well move NewCo into the Top 10. The questions in my mind are: will NewCo keep these assets or sell them on; and (more importantly) will it license out the rights to what is one of the best switch portfolios in the industry or manage the switches themselves.”

The evolving OTC market will be under the spotlight in our forthcoming report, Nicholas Hall’s New Paradigms for CHC 2019: Over the Horizon, written by Nicholas himself! Other chapters will include Healthcare Trends, Regulation, Digital engagement amongst many others. Nicholas will also unveil the 15 “Infinity Zones” he has identified as being crucial to the future growth of the industry. You can upgrade your purchase to include a customised in-house presentation or webinar with Nicholas for an additional GB£10,000. To find out more or to pre-order your copy, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

Tamiflu to switch to OTC in USA?

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With 2018 a barren year for Rx-to-OTC switch, it is welcome news that Sanofi has signed a strategic deal with Roche for the exclusive OTC rights to Tamiflu (oseltamivir 75mg capsules, Genentech / Roche Group) for flu prevention and treatment in the USA. Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi will be responsible for leading negotiations with the US FDA for the OTC switch and subsequent exclusive marketing, scientific engagement and distribution of Tamiflu OTC in the USA. Roche will continue to market Tamiflu in the rest of the world and Sanofi will retain the rights to first negotiations for switch rights in other selected markets. Sanofi’s Executive VP for Consumer Health, Alan Main, noted that: “A successful switch of Tamiflu to OTC would support our global cough and cold strategy by expanding into flu with a sustainable point of difference in the market.”

As Nina Stimson, OTC.NewDirections Consulting Editor, commented: “To some extent this was an unexpected development, but welcome insofar as (if approved), OTC Tamiflu will help expand the boundaries of consumer healthcare. Of course, in certain conditions (such as the swine flu pandemic in 2009-10) Tamiflu has sometimes been available from pharmacists without a prescription; New Zealand was one such country to permit OTC supply on a temporary basis.” 

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Tamiflu’s patent in the USA and some other markets expired in 2016 and, as the chart above indicates, this has led to a steady decline in sales over recent years, with US Tamiflu sales falling by 29% in 2018 to total CHF168mn (US$170mn). Generic competition intensified in the USA in 2017 and continues to grow, while Tamiflu brand sales are now also in decline in Japan and internationally. Roche is now focusing its efforts on Tamiflu’s successor, Xofluza, which was approved by the FDA in late 2018.

If Tamiflu can switch to OTC successfully in the USA, then similar reclassifications will likely follow elsewhere. In 2009, in the midst of the global swine flu pandemic, Australia’s State of Victoria issued a public health emergency order allowing pharmacists to supply Tamiflu (oseltamivir) without a prescription. There has also long been talk of Tamiflu switching to OTC in Europe – in 2008, at the AESGP meeting in Sweden, the EMA’s Executive Director Thomas Lonngren cited Tamiflu as a possible candidate for the EU’s then newly created centralised procedure for Rx-to-OTC switch.

Explore the latest CHC Innovations and Technologies at our OTC.NewDirections Executive Conferencetaking place in London on 14 November 2019. Nicholas Hall and Nina Stimson will be joined by experts from companies including Bayer, Mundipharma and J&J to review key issues impacting our industry and ensure that you are Keeping Consumers in the Spotlight. Book your place before 13 September to take advantage of our early bird booking discount and save GB£100! To find out more, or to reserve your place, please contact Elizabeth.Bernos@NicholasHall.com.

New technology and innovation to revive acne sales?

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For several years, the OTC acne remedies category has been in the doldrums. Global sales grew by just 1.9% in 2018, and the CAGR for the subcategory over the 2014-18 period is a lowly 1.6%. This poor performance is largely related to the US market, where sales of acne remedies fell by 1.4% to US$514mn in 2018.

That’s why the recent news that L’Oréal’s skin care brand, La Roche Posay, has introduced Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment, is very timely. Retailing for US$29.99 for a 45g tube, the topical retinoid once-daily medication is indicated for the treatment of acne in people aged 12+. The brand has also launched La Roche-Posay My Skin Track PoreScan, an AI-powered skin analysis tool (similar to Effaclar Spotscan, launched earlier in 2019) that can make personalised skincare recommendations for those concerned with clogged pores, raised imperfections and residual marks. 

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OTC.NewDirection‘s Consulting Editor, Nina Stimson, commented: “This is a major step for La Roche Posay and parent, L’Oréal, known worldwide primarily as a cosmetics player. Adapalene’s switch to OTC (at 0.1% Rx strength) as Differin Gel (Galderma / Nestlé) was approved in the USA in July 2016 as the first retinoid drug for the OTC treatment of acne, with adapalene acknowledged as the first new active ingredient for that OTC indication since the 1980s. This launch comes exactly three years later, as Differin’s exclusivity ends, and sees La Roche Posay / L’Oréal move right to the front line of registered OTC acne treatment. Differin Gel OTC sales have probably disappointed against expectations (although Nestlé’s Proactiv has also added an adapalene option to its DTC lineup) and other adapalene gels will undoubtedly also appear on US store shelves. Full marks to L’Oréal for prompt action.

There are also signs of renewed dynamism in Latin America thanks to strong investment in NPD from key marketers like Genomma. In June 2019, the company unveiled an innovative new acne remedy, Asepxia Maquiagem Liquida Autoajustavel, which features a unique technology that allows the product to adapt to various skin tones. Sold as a 30ml liquid, this latest addition to the Asepxia line is positioned to reduce acne and even skin tone, as well as mattify the skin and cover blemishes. New technology and innovation hold the key to unlocking future growth in this important OTC subcategory.

Birgit Schuhbauer, VP Global Franchise OTC and EMEA Region at J&J will take to the stage at Nicholas Hall’s OTC.NewDirections Executive Conference to explore how, with new consumer marketing opportunities with digital tools, we are Getting Closer to the Consumer than Ever. Taking place in London on 14 November 2019, the meeting will ultimately focus on the latest CHC Innovations and Technologies with presentations from companies also including Bayer, Prohibition Partners and Mundipharma. Save when you reserve your place now at the early bird booking rate. For more information, or to book your place, please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com.

Homeopathy under increasing scrutiny

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France is the latest country in recent years to call into question the role and efficacy of homeopathy, as governments look for savings in the healthcare budget. Last week’s announcement by France’s Minister for Solidarity & Health Agnes Buzyn that homeopathic medicines will be dereimbursed in France from 1st January 2021 is another blow to this consumer healthcare niche. In 2017, NHS England recommended that doctors no longer prescribe “ineffective, over-priced and low value treatments”, including homeopathy, which is said to have no clear or robust evidence to support use.

The French decision was based on a final recommendation by the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) stating that homeopathics have little proven efficacy and should not be covered by health insurance. In its assessment, which spanned 9 months, HAS evaluated close to 1,200 homeopathic products, many of which are currently reimbursed up to 30% when prescribed. In the interim, the level of reimbursement available for certain homeopathics will be cut from 30% to 15% on 1st January 2020, allowing consumers, manufacturers and prescribers time to prepare for eventual dereimbursement.

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Voicing its shock at the decision, key homeopathic player Boiron – which markets various leading OTCs in France, such as teething product Camilia – stated that around 1,000 jobs would be directly affected by the dereimbursement, given that 60% of the company’s business is in France and almost 70% of that is linked to reimbursed medicines. A November 2018 survey by Ipsos revealed that 77% of French people have used homeopathics.

In other countries, such as Spain and the USA, there has been a clampdown on homeopathic health claims. In November 2018, as part of a new marketing authorisation process for homeopathy, the AEMPS (Spanish Agency of Medicines & Medical Devices) indicated that homeopathics with no permitted therapeutic indication must state, “Sin indicaciones terapeuticas” (Without therapeutic indication) on packaging. Likewise, in May 2018, the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists announced that all homeopathic manufacturers will be encouraged to use the new disclaimer: “Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.”

Keep up to date with the latest in-depth reporting on homeopathy by subscribing to OTC INSIGHT! We have 4 title covering the latest developments in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and North America. Click here to find out what key features OTC INSIGHT includes. To receive a sample issue or for details of subscription rates, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

Tracker hits 20,000 innovations

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Our sister product OTC New Products Tracker has hit a significant milestone – 20,000 innovations added to a database that tracks consumer healthcare launch activity all the way back to the start of 2013, across 20 key markets. In this week’s blog, we look back at some of the highest-ranked innovations added to the archive over the past year.

A recent 4-star innovation is medical device Flow from Flow Neuroscience, a first of its kind home treatment on the European market. Positioned as a non-medicated alternative treatment for depression, the medical device comprises a brain stimulation headset and a therapy app. While stimulation is in use, the app acts as a virtual therapist that the user can interact with. Available in the UK since summer 2019, Flow retails for £399.

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Adjacent OTC categories have been fuelling the fire of consumer healthcare innovation in recent years, with medical cannabis / CBD and probiotics two of the most active categories in terms of launch activity. US marketer CBDfx is arguably the most pioneering innovator among the new wave of medical cannabis companies, launching several new delivery formats over the past two years, including vaping pens (January 2018), “chill shot” drinks for anxiety (March 2019), sublingual hemp strips (April 2019) and acne face masks (June 2019).

Like CBD, probiotics have also enjoyed high levels of innovation in terms of delivery formats and positioning. Two examples of probiotics targeting a new consumer healthcare niche include Elebiotic, a recent Recordati launch in Spain positioned to manage recurrent acute otitis media in infants, and Khan’s Morning, a probiotic launched in South Korea in early 2019 that is claimed to help break down the alcohol and acetaldehyde that causes hangovers.

Review 20,000+ launches and innovations with OTC New Products Tracker, the ultimate competitive intelligence tool! Products are graded with a star rating, from 1* (essentially “me too” and generics) up to 4* (1st Rx-to-OTC switches in a category, creation of a new OTC class or other major leaps in innovation). With a recently-released major update including eye-catching new graphics and powerful search filters that help you visualise and explore the vast archive according to your exact specifications, now is the perfect time to set up your free trial. For a demo or more information, please contact waisan.lee-gabell@NicholasHall.com.