Eczema sufferers offered new hope


A new medication may improve signs and symptoms of severe eczema, according to the findings of two Phase III clinical trials published on 1st October in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A multi-institutional research team conducted the trials (SOLO1 and SOLO2) to test the effects of dupilumab (Regeneron / Sanofi) among 671 and 708 (respectively) participants with severe eczema.

For 14 weeks, participants received dupilumab (300mg/w), placebo or alternate weekly dupilumab and placebo. The primary outcome was the proportion of participants achieving a score of 0 or 1 (clear or almost clear) on the Investigator’s Global Assessment and a 2+ point reduction in that score from baseline at week 16.

The findings from SOLO1 and SOLO2 showed primary outcome occurred in 38% and 36% of participants who received dupilumab on alternate weeks and in 37% and 36% of those who received it weekly, vs 10% and 8% of placebo group, respectively.


Most patients who got the active drug, dupilumab, instead of a placebo reported that the itching began to wane within two weeks and was gone in a few months, as their skin began to clear. Nearly 40% of participants getting the drug saw all or almost all of their rash disappear.

The drug blocks two specific molecules of the immune system that are overproduced in patients with this and some other allergic diseases. The only side-effects were a slight increase in conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the outer membrane of the eye and swelling at the injection site.

Eczema & psoriasis is one of the categories covered in our round-up of OTC skin care treatments that are being published in the September and October editions of all four OTC INSIGHT titles.

US acne OTC market ready to pop


It’s amazing that the OTC treatment of acne has been limited to benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid treatments for more than three decades, but now US teens and adults suffering from the condition have new options in the form of a medical device and the pending launch of an Rx-to-OTC switch topical gel.

J&J has launched Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask, said to harness the power of clinically proven technology to clear acne and allow skin to heal itself. The mask emits blue light to kill acne-causing bacteria, while its red light goes deeper to reduce inflammation. Use is simple, with people putting the mask on after cleansing their faces and pushing the button and letting it work for 10 minutes.


The US$40 mask includes 30 treatments, and subsequent purchases of the Light Mask Activator for US$17 means the mask can be charged for another 30 treatments. Although there are many light devices for acne treatment available on e-commerce sites like Amazon, the cachet of the trusted leading OTC acne brand, Neutrogena, on the label, and the far lower price point compared to other devices makes this product a game-changer.

Meanwhile, Galderma (Nestlé) is getting ready to launch Differin Gel (adapalene), the first retinoid acne treatment to be available as an OTC when the FDA approved its switch from Rx-only status last summer. The topical drug will dramatically change the complexion of retail shelves with a new ingredient for a skin condition that can have a major quality of life impact on millions of consumers. The Differin website promises that the new OTC will be on retail shelves soon.

This month, OTC INSIGHT North America will cover the acne remedies market in more detail as part 2 of its skin care report. To learn more about INA, click below:

Nicholas Hall’s OTC INSIGHT regional periodicals

Stays-Hard is an instant success

It is estimated that 300mn men worldwide suffer with erectile dysfunction problems and 30% of men will experience premature ejaculation at some stage in their life.

Current solutions such as pills, pumps and surgical procedures are known to be effective but are time-consuming and can cause long-term hassle and discomfort.

A new device however, created by British manufacturer Tyna International, has taken the OTC sex aid market by storm, promising to conquer erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, helping men sustain intercourse for as long as they wish.

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Though targeted at 40s-60 age group, it could also transform the sex lives of many men including the elderly and disabled without the need for invasive surgery. It could also help the estimated 7% of men in their 20s and 11% in their 30s who are suffering from erectile dysfunction.

Gaining global recognition, the device called ‘Stays-Hard’ holds the penis aloft to maintain an erection and can continue after orgasm. Safe to use with condoms and other contraceptives, the device can be fitted by either partner in a matter of seconds.

First going on sale last month, Stays-Hard sold out almost immediately, attracting strong interest from both customers and commercial distributors all over the globe.

Stays-Hard elongates the penis allowing for increased blood flow, it is comfortable, easy to use and pleasurable for both partners, giving a natural feeling.

After five years of research, the product was developed with advice from urologists and Professor Peter Ford of De Montfort University. A number of successful case studies in men of all ages confirmed Stays-Hard’s ability to maintain a pain-free erection, even after ejaculation.

Natural products tipping into mainstream


A lollapalooza of healthy food, home care, beauty and health & wellness brands were promoted by 2,000 exhibitors at last week’s Natural Products Expo East, held in Baltimore, MD.

But which products are most relevant to mainstream consumers? Eric Pierce, Director, Strategy & Insights, New Hope Network, presented data from the NEXT Trend Concept Lab that used data to predict which natural product innovations are tipping into the mainstream consumer channel:

  • “Mission-based” brands
  • Pre/probiotics
  • Local sourcing
  • Paleo
  • “Hidden veggies”
  • Brain health
  • Compostable packaging
  • Grass-fed dairy

The partnership between Vitamin Angels, which supplies vitamins to undernourished people worldwide, and Walgreens, which donates vitamins based on consumer brand selection, is a great example of the tip towards “mission-based” brands. Walgreens is also donating immunisation to underserved communities when people get their flu shots in the pharmacy. Another trend that has tipped is probiotics, already a mainstream OTC category, and every week more scientific proof of their benefits is published.


But what about “hidden veggies” for parents trying to appease picky eaters? Can mainstream OTCs provide the nutritional benefits of greens? There were many drinks, sachets and capsules offering several servings of vegetables at the show.

Brain health has proven a challenging claim, in terms of demonstrable and clinical efficacy. Which consumer healthcare player (or start-up) will meet the brain claim challenge?

Compostable packaging may be the gold standard, but without a doubt mainstream marketers can adopt more eco-friendly attire for their brands. This will increasingly appeal to all consumers.

Local sourcing, grass-fed dairy and Paleo (based on the diet regimen) are of course trends in food, but the “clean” philosophy that underpins these trends is being adopted by consumers in all lifestyle segments, including supplements.

These trends are tipping to the mainstream now … will your brand meet consumer demand for healthy and sustainable healthcare products?

Military Potential of Omega-3

A new study will determine if omega-3 supplementation can improve cognitive processes in high-performing soldiers.

Military interest in omega-3 is not new; a 2014 edition of Military Medicine focused on the fatty acids as “nutritional armour”. The interest surrounding military use of omega-3 is mainly related to its reported indication of mood improvement, and possibly reducing suicide rates among serving and ex-military personnel. It is also believed that a faster recovery from traumatic brain injury and the improved reaction times of fighter pilots could also be other benefits found from consistent omega-3 use.

Furthering ongoing studies, a new study is set to officially determine whether omega-3 supplementation can improve cognitive processes in high-performing soldiers. The Ranger Resilience and improved performance on Phospholipid bound Omega-3s (RRIPP-3) study will be conducted by the medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), and will include second lieutenants entering the Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course (IBOLC) and subsequent Ranger Training at Fort Benning.


The purpose of the study is to investigate whether supplementation with krill oil concentrate can improve specific cognitive processes that underpin key elements of soldier performance, which may have a measurable impact on performance and mental health under psychophysiological stress of military officer training.

This will be an extension of a study recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders which outlined that omega-3 could potentially help sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is known to produce psychophysiological symptoms such as a pounding heart.

The study will overall seek to answer three questions:

  • Will treatment with krill oil concentrate containing the omega-3 HUFAs improve cognitive and psychiatric functioning during US Army Infantry Basic Office Leadership Course?
  • Will treatment with krill oil concentrate containing the omega-3 HUFAs improve the performance of officers during portions of the U.S Army Infantry Basic Office Leadership Course and Ranger Training?
  • Do the effects of the supplements continue once a person stops taking them? Are there any group differences in functioning observed two months after treatment is discontinued (i.e. after Ranger Training?)

Clever Campaign Connects Condoms With Indian Truck Drivers

India has the third-largest HIV epidemic in the world, with 2.1mn people estimated to be living with the disease.

OTC INSIGHT Asia-Pacific reported last week that, in India, around 2 million truck drivers are frequently engaging in unprotected sex with sex workers and only 11.4% of these workers said they had used a condom.

As a result, the level of STDs in this group has substantially increased and, combined with the general population prevalence of HIV, it is nearly five times higher than the national figure. Sexual health awareness is low among truck drivers. Efforts are being made to educate the population on the importance of sexual health.

Tata Motors, one of India’s largest truck manufacturers, decided to tackle the problem head-on but needed to find an approach that would engage with the target group. Tata Motors enlisted the help of creative agency Rediffusion Y&R and launched the “Use Dipper At Night” campaign in April 2016. Indian truckers have a strong cultural identity and “Use Dipper At Night” (reminding drivers to dip their headlights during nighttime) alongside other brightly painted slogans is often written on trucks.

The idea behind the campaign was to encourage truck drivers to practice safe sex by linking it to a phrase that resonates strongly with every member of the community. To this end, a new condom brand called Dipper was created and marketed exclusively to truck drivers.

HLL Lifecare, a government-owned corporation and India’s largest condom manufacturer, produces the condoms. The brand identity has been carefully thought out in order to reflect the trucking culture in packaging. Each wallet, which contains three condoms, is decorated with different truck art motifs and slogans, such as “Have a Safe Journey”, to make them more appealing to the target consumer.

WHO expresses interest in new Zika test

Scientists in Singapore have developed a kit that can test for the Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika viruses all at the same time in just two hours.

The three mosquito-borne viruses cause similar symptoms such as rashes and joint pain. Symptoms for the Zika virus are generally mild and go away within a week, causing the disease to be misdiagnosed.

The kit is ready for use and only costs a few dollars to produce. Dr Masafumi Inoue, a senior research scientist at the Agency for Science, Technology & Research’s Experimental Therapeutics Centre confirmed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed interest.

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Dr Masafumi Inoue is currently compiling clinical data for the health authority before sending the kit over for testing. If the testing is successful, the WHO may use the kit to test for the viruses.

As it is extremely important to quickly distinguish between the three major mosquito-borne viruses, the kit could prove incredibly useful in ensuring patients receive the required treatment and care without delay.

All that is required from the patient is a blood or urine sample. The genetic material of the virus is then extracted to find out what the virus is. The detection process takes two hours, reducing the time by threefold if each of the viruses were to be tested for individually.

The idea to develop the kit came about six months ago when Brazil had been hit badly by a large number of Zika cases.