Medical cannabis diversification

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In terms of number of innovations by OTC subcategory, medical cannabis moved into the Top 20 in 2018 according to OTC New Products Tracker, with 86 new product developments. Europe and North America have been driving the trend in terms of high-quality innovations, from Swiss Cannabis Gum in Switzerland to PharmaCare’s Naturopathica lozenges in the UK and Foria Basics Suppositories in the USA.

As well as an ever-growing diversity of delivery formats, another characteristic of the emerging medical cannabis category is the increasing width of positioning. This is exemplified by a new range of hemp-based hair & body care products launched by HempMeds. Distributed by Naturewell in the US market, the personal care line is composed of 4 products – shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion – all formulated with CBD oil (derived from hemp) and natural extracts such as argan and goji berry (shampoo), argan and green tea (conditioner), peppermint and liquorice root (body wash) and jojoba oil and almond oil (body lotion). 

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Available now to buy online, this new range was just recently showcased at the Natural Products Expo West in California, where HempMeds President Todd Morrow said that design and development of the line was “focused on consideration of women in particular”.

According to a recent report by Eaze, the number of US women buying cannabis products almost doubled in 2018, up 92%, and women now make up 38% of all US cannabis consumers. This report shows that not only is the medical cannabis product mix diversifying in terms of format and positioning, but the consumer base is also widening too, with more women and older people now entering the market.

Review 17,000+ new launches and innovations with OTC New Products Tracker, the ultimate competitive intelligence tool! Products are given a star rating, with “me too” items ranked 1*; launches / line extensions in a new category / adjacency 2*; major launches / line extensions with strong new benefits / positioning 3*, and 1st Rx-to-OTC switches in a category, creation of a new OTC class or other major leaps in innovation 4*. 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, contact waisan.lee-gabell@NicholasHall.com.

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OTC Innovation Report 2018

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Lamenting the fact that Scott Gottlieb is stepping down as FDA Commissioner, Nicholas Hall commented in Friday’s OTC.Newsflash that: “Although producing few tangible results so far, FDA under Gottlieb has displayed a greater openness to finding new switch models at a lower cost and with shorter lead times, including the use of new technologies.” Nicholas Hall also said that “government support is vital to our industry” and that “more liberal regulations are at the heart of a successful self-care sector”.

A drop-off in switch activity over the past year is part of the explanation for lower levels of high-quality OTC innovation. In 2018, OTC New Products Tracker awarded just six products with 4 stars – eye care brands Lumify (USA) and Zabak Eye Drops (Poland), antacid Reza Band (USA) and antispasmodic Scopolan Compositum (Poland), plus Viagra Connect (UK) and allergy remedy Talerc (Brazil). Compared to previous years, this marked a falling-off in terms of 4-star innovations.

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The number of total OTC innovations (3,747) in 2018 was roughly in line with the previous year, and still much higher compared to 2014, 2015 and 2016. However, the number of 2* (528), 3* (94) and 4* (6) innovations was much lower, while the number of 1* innovations (3,119) was at an all-time high.

VMS continues to be a major source of innovation, with three of the Top 5 subcategories in 2018 – probiotics, multivitamins and hair & beauty supplements. Derma is another key source of innovation, with three of the Top 10 – acne remedies, eczema & psoriasis and lip care. The three other innovative subcategories which complete the Top 10 are sedatives & sleep aids, topical analgesics and sore throat.

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Please contact us for the full report. You can also review 17,000+ new launches and innovations with OTC New Products Tracker, the ultimate competitive intelligence tool! Products are given a star rating, with “me too” items ranked 1*; launches / line extensions in a new category / adjacency 2*; major launches / line extensions with strong new benefits / positioning 3*, and 1st Rx-to-OTC switches in a category, creation of a new OTC class or other major leaps in innovation 4*. 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 requirements, now is the ideal time to set up your free trial. For a demo or more information, contact waisan.lee-gabell@NicholasHall.com.

AI to power personalised nutrition

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An article that appeared over the weekend in The New York Times by US cardiologist and digital medicine researcher Eric Topol pointed to the power of artificial intelligence to provide personalised diet and nutrition advice. Algorithms that could advise us on what’s lacking in our diet and recommend supplements or foods that would fill those gaps hold great promise for both consumers and VMS marketers, and rapid advances in AI technology are bringing such a reality closer.

However, Topol says that the science of nutrition still remains in its infancy, and that most studies rely on observational data such as food diaries, unreliable sources of information which prevent any high-quality trials establishing cause and effect. More importantly, Topol says the central flaw in this field of research is the idea that there is one optimal diet for all people.

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One pioneer in the field of personalised nutrition is US supplement marketer Thorne, which repackaged its products and launched a new range of at-home diagnostic tests in 2018, providing personalised health and diet plans, including VMS supplement recommendations. Other US VMS marketers operating in this emerging field of personalised nutrition, and which have launched products recently picked up by Nicholas Hall’s OTC New Products Tracker, include Ladder and Persona.

There is also the emerging field of nutrigenomics, with companies marketing DNA tests that offer personalised diet plans, though Topol advises caution here, saying that a truly personalised diet would involve taking many more factors into account than just genetics. He cites the importance of microbiome analysis, lifestyle, medication, family history, immune system and many other factors, and says that no AI is yet on the market that can analyse all this data and offer personalised solutions.

But there is cause for hope. Studies monitoring spikes in blood glucose levels after eating have made some breakthroughs, pointing to the importance of our gut microbiome, and there is now a commercial version of the DayTwo personalised nutrition test available, based on the research of Dr Segal and Dr Elinav. Topol also mentions other advances, such as AI deep learning tools that can analyse smartphone photos of a user’s meals to record nutritional intake, replacing the need for food diaries. Topol also stresses the importance of wearables, such as smartwatches and skin patches, as aids in unlocking a future of virtual health coaches offering personalised nutrition advice to us all.

Review 17,000+ new launches and innovations with OTC New Products Tracker, the ultimate competitive intelligence tool! Products are given a star rating, with “me too” items ranked 1*; launches / line extensions in a new category / adjacency 2*; major launches / line extensions with strong new benefits / positioning 3*, and 1st Rx-to-OTC switches in a category, creation of a new OTC class or other major leaps in innovation 4*. 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 requirements, now is the ideal time to set up your free trial. For a demo or more information, contact waisan.lee-gabell@NicholasHall.com.

RB 2.0: E-commerce a key focus

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With CEO Rakesh Kapoor retiring at the end of the year, and ambitious plans for RB 2.0 to be implemented within the next year, this is without doubt a transformational time for RB. Nicholas Hall believes RB 2.0 will lead to the “end-point of divesting the Hygiene Home business, and with the company quickly moving on to v3.0 and a major merger. I can think of at least four CHC companies that may want to be associated with RB v3.0, not all of whom could be considered equals, but who would be attracted by a cashless transaction and the benefits of scale.” 

RB released its full year results last week, with net revenue in 2018 up by 3% on a like-for-like basis, while Health grew by 2%. Within Health, the OTC segment rose by 5%, driven by innovations (Nurofen 24-hour patch, Strepsils flurbiprofen spray) and strong regional performances (Lemsip in UK, Luftal in Brazil, Moov in India and Tempra in Mexico). As part of its RB 2.0 mission, the company is planning to “supercharge” innovation even further, focusing on new categories (i.e. the launch of brain health supplement Neuriva later in H1 2019), new consumers and new channels (i.e. MegaRed and Move Free in e-commerce outlets in China).

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In its 2018 results presentation, RB emphasised its “best-in-class digital and e-commerce capability” as a key driver behind RB 2.0 growth, highlighting the specific case of China where the company’s online sales already outweigh “offline” sales thanks to strong partnerships with the likes of Alibaba and JD.com. Innovations such as MegaRed CoQ10, Move Free Ultra and Move Free Advanced have been specially developed for the e-commerce channel in China and the USA. 

In its results, the company also reported that 9% of RB Health sales are generated in the e-commerce channel, which it says ranks second among its consumer healthcare peers, while its operating margin of 28% is way ahead of the consumer healthcare average. RB attributes its success in e-commerce to its FMCG heritage and its strong margins to the relatively high proportion of its portfolio devoted to Consumer Health vs key OTC competitors.

Nicholas Hall’s New Paradigms for CHC 2019: Over the Horizon, our upcoming new Signature Report written by Nicholas, includes a chapter dedicated to reviewing M&A within the CHC industry. Exploring recent transactions, multiples and the buyers and sellers — with predictions of likely future deals — Nicholas also asks whether M&A actually works and examines the role of private equity. An essential read for all players striving to compete in this rapidly-evolving marketplace, for the full table of contents or to pre-order your copy, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

 

High on innovation, but CBD faces regulatory uncertainty

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Various Nicholas Hall publications, notably OTC.NewDirections and OTC New Products Tracker, provide in-depth coverage of medical cannabis developments owing to the category’s huge potential to boost future consumer healthcare growth. High levels of innovation, both in terms of positioning and delivery format (like those detailed below), continue to characterise the category, but recent regulatory moves by the WHO and EU mean that the status of CBD supplements remains far from settled.

Looking at delivery format innovations, recent developments include a new mouth spray in the UK (Natures Aid CBD Oil Spray from Thornton & Ross / Stada) and a new nasal spray in the USA (Rhinodol from New Leaf Pharmaceuticals). The latter claims to deliver the highest concentrations of medical CBD at an affordable cost (US$69.99). According to New Leaf, the oral administrative route provides the lowest bioavailability, owing to the digestive processes that occur when CBDs enter the blood stream (a significant amount of CBD goes into the liver and is broken down into unusable compounds).

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Screenshot from New Leaf Pharma’s website

Meanwhile, attitudes to CBD and cannabis are changing at a regulatory level. According to news sources, a leaked World Health Organisation internal letter to the UN Secretary-General recommends that whole-flower cannabis and its resins should be removed from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), the most restrictive international drug category. Cannabis scheduling was discussed at the Expert Committee of Drug Dependence 41st meeting in November 2018 but the discussions have not been published. The letter also clarified that cannabidiol should not be scheduled within the International Drug Control Conventions, while tinctures and extracts of cannabis should also be deleted from Schedule I. WHO recommendations will be voted on by the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which could take place in March 2019.

In Europe, marketers of CBD supplements are facing new regulatory hurdles. The European Food Safety Authority has amended the entry for cannabinoids on the Novel Foods register, which now states: “Extracts of Cannabis sativa L. and derived products containing cannabinoids are considered novel foods as a history of consumption has not been demonstrated. This applies to both the extracts themselves and any products to which they are added as an ingredient (such as hemp seed oil). This also applies to extracts of other plants containing cannabinoids. Synthetically-obtained cannabinoids are considered as novel.”

This means that CBD supplements are now classed as a novel food in Europe and manufacturers face the prospect of having to take their products off the market while they apply for approved novel food status, which can take around a year. In December 2018, Austria banned the sale of CBD extracts, stating that the ingredients fall under the EU’s Novel Foods regulations and cannot be marketed without authorisation.

Join Nicholas Hall at our upcoming New Jersey meeting, hosted with our partners Everything Health. Based on the theme, Innovate, Digitize, Integrate, the meeting takes place on 26-27 June, with representatives from Perrigo, MarketHub, Google and many others, joining us to discuss and debate topics including:

  • Market Trends and Innovation
  • Key Developments in the Cannabis Market
  • Connected Health
  • Consumer Insights using Artificial Intelligence  

Vaping among middle-aged growing fast

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According to a recent report by Mintel on e-cigarette and smoking control use in the UK, vaping among the middle-aged (45-54 years olds especially) has undergone a sharp rise. While only 13% of 45-54 year olds used e-cigarettes in 2016, this proportion has grown sharply to 20% in 2018, and this age group is also reported as being most likely (71%) to believe that vaping is fashionable.

Young people (18-24 year olds) are still the most prominent vapers; the share of e-cigarette use among this age group grew from 24% in 2016 to 28% in 2018. Although this represents a slower rate of growth compared to their middle-aged counterparts, over half of Brits (57%) still believe that too many young people vape.

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Overall, about 19% of British adults vape, up from 17% in 2016, with men twice as likely to vape as women. Sales of e-cigarettes are reported to be performing well, with the market experiencing strong growth of 12% in 2018, to total £283mn (US$366mn). This is compared to a UK smoking control market declining by 1%, according to the latest OTC DASHBOARD MAT Q3 2018 figures, a trend caused by smokers turning to e-cigarettes rather than traditional NRT when cutting back on tobacco.

In his latest message to the consumer health industry, Nicholas Hall wrote about the importance of true innovation, including the following points:

• Embrace the outer adjacencies of consumer health, of which sexual health, e-cigarettes / vaping and medical cannabis are the most interesting, potentially adding another 20-30% to CHC market sales; BUT, every time I propose these categories to a client, all I hear is a sharp intake of breath, followed by a nervous giggle

• Refocus on organic growth, which means more differentiation of the new products we launch. Our OTC New Products Tracker (see below) has recorded 17,000 launches in the past 6 years, of which 99 appear to be game-changers and another 1,000 have a genuine point of difference. But I’m sorry to say that for many of the other 93%, the marketers would have done better to keep their money in the bank, even at 0.1% interest.

Review 17,000+ new launches and innovations with OTC New Products Tracker, the ultimate competitive intelligence tool! Products are given a star rating, with “me too” items ranked 1*; launches / line extensions in a new category / adjacency 2*; major launches / line extensions with strong new benefits / positioning 3*, and 1st Rx-to-OTC switches in a category, creation of a new OTC class or other major leaps in innovation 4*. 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 requirements, now is the ideal time to set up your free trial. For a demo or more information, contact waisan.lee-gabell@NicholasHall.com.

E-commerce shake-up in India

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India has been one of the major drivers of global OTC growth, with sales up 8.8% in the MAT Q3 2018 period, but there is now uncertainty over the country’s e-commerce sector after the government moved ahead with new rules that took effect last Friday (1st February 2019). The rules prohibit online retailers from selling products via companies or distributors in which they have an equity stake, so e-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart (owned by Walmart) have been most affected.

Amazon has now pulled various products from its Indian website, including some of its Amazon Basics line, while Walmart said it was “disappointed” at the government’s haste in implementing the new rules, which will create “significant work” for the company in overhauling its supply chains and systems. Political commentators see Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to stand firm as a move intended to appease smaller Indian retailers ahead of a general election expected in May.

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Amazon saw its shares dip 4% on the day the rules were implemented and it has lowered its sales guidance for India in Q1 2019. Walmart shares also fell, down 2.4%. In the short-term, there will be huge disruption to supply chains and increasing compliance costs, which will inevitably affect the availability and price of products online, while also giving a boost to bricks & mortar retailers. Long-term, however, Amazon and Flipkart have invested huge sums in India’s e-commerce market and will no doubt recover share.

In the meantime, more disruption to the e-commerce sector might be on its way. India issued draft regulations on the sale of medicines by e-pharmacies in September 2018, including a requirement to register for a licence with the country’s pharma regulator, CDSCO, which should be renewed every 3 years. However, the move has drawn protests and petitions from pharmacists, and opposing views in different regions of India, making the future implementation of these regulations highly uncertain.

The latest edition of our bestselling annual OTC Yearbook 2019 is available to pre-order! Scheduled for publication this April, this report will include reviews of major OTC categories, leading companies and brands, Medical Devices, Switch and much more. Pre-order your copy before 31 March to take advantage of our pre-publication rate! To find out more, or to reserve your copy, please contact Melissa.Lee@NicholasHall.com.