OTCs in Action Episode 57: IBgard, consumer healthcare trailblazer

The woman stands at her workstation, cringing and holding her stomach while the voiceover gently suggests: “Abdominal pain. Bloating. You may have IBS. Ask your doctor if the nonprescription IBgard is right for you. IBgard – calms the angry gut. Available at CVS and Walgreens.”

This week, IBgard is our OTC in Action as its blazes a new trail for self-medication. The February issue of the prominent medical journal, Digestive Diseases and Sciences, features a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study which demonstrated that IBgard provides reduction in symptoms including abdominal discomfort, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and gas.

It’s amazing that these stellar claims are not made by an Rx drug or an OTC – IBgard is a medical food that should be used under the supervision of a doctor, and does not require FDA pre-authorisation or a New Drug Application. Interestingly, its capsule formulation of peppermint oil could also be a dietary supplement, but would not be able to make disease-related claims. IM HealthScience also protected its investment by using patented Site Specific Technology in its clinically-tested peppermint oil mixture, preventing other peppermint oils from making the same claims.

OTC marketers have been endlessly searching for innovative products without dangerous side-effects; the dietary supplement folks have been craving claims substantiation and patented formulations. Oh, and by the way, over 10,000 healthcare practitioners, including 3,000 gastroenterologists, are estimated to have already used IBgard for their patients, according to IM HealthScience.

Last week, the company launched an independent spin-off called Physician’s Seal to focus on the development and commercialisation of novel and science-based dietary supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Its non-executive Chairman is OTC veteran Fred Hassan, who stated: “We are proud to expand our family of businesses to a wider market using our exceptional science base and our broad intellectual property portfolio. We also will be leveraging the success of our initial medical foods product, IBgard, specially formulated for the dietary management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.”

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