OTCs in Action Episode 30: Kava kava, glucosamine shift status in Germany, France

OTCinActionheaderThis week’s OTCs in Action starts out in Philadelphia, where last week some Germans who came to visit me purchased the dietary supplement melatonin for personal use, because it’s only available on prescription at home. The German OTC sleep aids market is largely composed of natural products, such as valerian and homeopathic remedies, so it was somewhat surprising that melatonin is not available OTC.

In contrast, the Cologne Administrative Court overturned a ban on the calming herb, kava kava, last year. Owing to concerns about liver toxicity, the ingredient was withdrawn from most European markets in 2002, and the FDA issued a warning letter discouraging use of the product in the US. Subsequent research has indicated that the original studies were flawed, and the German court ruled that the risks did not outweigh the ingredient’s benefits.

Click on this link to access OTC INSIGHT Europe’s latest report on the German OTC sleep aids market.

Elsewhere in Europe, France has approved the Rx-to-OTC switch of Biocodex’s Dolenio (glucosamine 1,178mg, 30-tab pack), a slow-acting anti-arthritis medicine. This follows the dereimbursement of several anti-arthritis brands, which had been reimbursed at 15% when prescribed by a doctor. Affected brands included Piasclédine (Expanscience, avocado-soybean unsaponifiables), Chondrosulf (Genévrier / IBSA, chondroitin sulphate), Art 50 (Negma, diacerein) and Voltaflex (Novartis, glucosamine).

Piasclédine and Chondrosulf (in particular) used to command huge sales as semi-ethical brands in France, but now face a challenging, but potentially lucrative, new future in the self-medication sphere.

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