Google’s Derm Assist AI tool

Google is making a big move into healthcare with its announcement last week of a new AI skin care tool, Derm Assist, which is set to launch in Europe later this year. The new tool received a Class I medical device CE mark from European regulators, and is backed by landmark research that was published in Nature Medicine this time last year, showing how Google’s AI model was trained on more than 16,000 real-world dermatology cases and achieved accuracy on a par with US board-certified dermatologists. Another more recent study in JAMA Network indicated the AI tool also significantly improved diagnostic accuracy of non-derma specialists such as GPs.

In its blog announcement, Google said: “With our CE marked AI-powered dermatology assist tool, a web-based application that we aim to make available for early testing in the EU later this year, it’s easier to figure out what might be going on with your skin. Simply use your phone’s camera to take three images of the skin, hair or nail concern from different angles. You’ll then be asked questions about your skin type, how long you’ve had the issue and other symptoms that help the AI to narrow down the possibilities. The AI model analyses all of this information and draws from its knowledge of 288 conditions to give you a list of possible conditions that you can then research further. It’s not meant to be a replacement for diagnosis, but rather a good place to start.”

Google said that it sees billions of Google Searches every year related to skin, nail and hair issues, but that it remains difficult for people to describe what they see on their skin through words alone. According to the FT, Google cited studies showing that people only diagnose themselves correctly 13% of the time when it comes to skin conditions, presenting a huge opportunity for the Derm Assist tool. In the blog announcement, Google provided a visual walkthrough of how the tool will work on smartphones, starting with a prompt to submit a picture of your “skin concern” (examples include moles, birthmarks and rashes), with the visual information then analysed by the AI before being converted into a gallery of suggested conditions.

Google is keen to emphasis the inclusivity of its AI model, stating: “To make sure we’re building for everyone, our model accounts for factors like age, sex, race and skin types – from pale skin that does not tan to brown skin that rarely burns. We developed and fine-tuned our model with de-identified data encompassing around 65,000 images and case data of diagnosed skin conditions, millions of curated skin concern images and thousands of examples of healthy skin – all across different demographics.”

Review New Product Activity and the latest digital health developments across the industry with Innovation in CHC 2021, the latest report from CHC New Products Tracker. For more information, or to order your copy, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com

RB sales +11.8% in 2020; Biofreeze in, Scholl out

RB recorded its highest-ever sales increase in 2020, with net revenue up 11.8% on a like-for-like basis to £14bn (US$20bn). Health grew by 12.1% to £4.9bn (US$6.9bn), while Hygiene sales had an even better year (+19.5%) in 2020 and Nutrition sales were flat. E-Commerce sales grew by a record +56% in 2020 and now account for around 12% of group net revenue.

In Q4 2020, total RB net revenue was £3.6bn (US$5.1bn), +10.2%. Health grew by 2.8% to £1.2bn (US$1.7bn), with strong growth for Dettol, Durex and Gaviscon partially offset by the expected impact of the weak cough, cold & flu season, which resulted in the OTC portfolio being down just over 20% in the quarter. Hygiene (+25.7%) was even more the main growth driver for RB in Q4, while Nutrition sales were 3.5% lower, with excellent growth for Airborne and Neuriva offset by lower sales for Infant & Child Nutrition products in Greater China; a strategic review of the infant formula business in China, which represents 6% of group revenue, is underway. E-Commerce sales were up 50% in Q4, accounting for around 13% of total group revenue.

At the same time, RB announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Biofreeze brand from US-based Performance Health (Madison Dearborn Partners). Financial terms were not disclosed. In USA, Biofreeze is the No.1 clinically-recommended topical pain relief brand and has delivered robust double-digit sales growth. “We see compelling opportunities to develop the topical pain relief category globally with Biofreeze and other RB pain management brands including Nurofen, Moov and Tempra,” said RB CEO Laxman Narasimhan. “The brand taps into the growing global trend for wellness and self-care and aligns with our strategy to build our US Health footprint into new spaces and places.” The deal is expected to close in Q2 2021.

In addition, US-based private equity group Yellow Wood Partners has agreed to acquire RB’s Scholl foot care brand, which operates globally outside of the Americas, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition will reunite Scholl with the Dr Scholl’s brand – operated by Yellow Wood as a standalone company since its acquisition from Bayer in 2019 – as one entity after more than 30 years of separate ownership. The combined company, which generates annual retail sales in excess of US$700mn, with leading market shares in the global foot care category, will operate in 50+ countries. The deal is expected to be completed by Q3 2021.

Now is your final chance to register for our webinar on 3 March focusing on Mental Wellness across the Americas — join Nicholas Hall and Jennifer Cooper to explore the Sleep, Memory & Mood markets. For more information, or to take a look at the full schedule of webinars for 2021, please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com.

MAT Q3 Update: Category, country performances

Assessing the latest data on the performance of the global CHC market in MAT Q3 2020, Celine Waller, Group VP, DB6, wrote: “Covid-19 continues to have a seismic effect on the CHC market, although the impact of the pandemic differs depending on the category and geography. However, in totality the market has continued to outperform expectations with the increased focus on maintaining health & wellness providing a welcome boost to the industry.”

Vitamins, minerals & supplements (+6.0%) was the fastest-growing major category in MAT Q3, benefiting from the greater focus on wellness, with products connected to immunity particularly dynamic – overall, immune supplement sales rose by 47% globally. This trend was particularly noticeable in the world’s No.1 CHC market, USA, where immune supplements, as well as zinc and vitamin C supplements, all recorded exceptional growth.

Dermatologicals also performed well, increasing by 5.9% thanks to a surge in demand for antiseptics & disinfectants, which grew by 51% globally, owing to RB’s Dettol making big gains in key markets like China, and various successful launches in the USA. Meanwhile, analgesics achieved growth of 5.0% thanks to the strong performance of systemics (+5.9%), powered by the continued dynamism of global No.2 CHC brand Tylenol (J&J). Topicals mustered growth of only 3.2% in spite of the US switch of GSK’s Voltaren Arthritis Pain.

Cough, cold & allergy (+2.2%) was the weakest category globally in MAT Q3 2020, as social distancing and increased hygiene measures resulted in reduced incidence of respiratory pathologies. Declining sales for cough & cold remedies across western Europe, most noticeably in Germany and France, was the primary factor for the poor performance of these markets in MAT Q3 2020.

Gastrointestinals also produced low growth, with global sales increasing by just 2.8%, after a flat performance in western Europe and falling sales in Japan. In fact, heavy decline for GIs and OTC tonic drinks were two key factors behind the 5.1% fall in Japan’s CHC market. Liver & bile remedies (+5.2%) was the only GIs subcategory to achieve growth of more than 5% globally, powered by a double-digit rise in China.

Sales of Lifestyle CHC products expanded by 3.7%, a further deceleration in Q3, despite double-digit growth for sedatives & sleep aids and obesity treatments. A slowdown in sales of eye care treatments and a drop-off in Rx-to-OTC switch activity are two of the primary factors for this deceleration globally, though one exception is erectile dysfunction, which grew by double digits powered by OTC switches in the UK and Poland.

We are pleased to announce the latest DB6 MAT Q3 data is now available! With over 150,000 pieces of data across 63 markets, DB6 now includes topline data across all channels of distribution, including e-Commerce! To find out more about our extensive database or to set up a free demo, please contact kate.holdcroft@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.

Bidding starts for Nestle Skin Health

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According to a Reuters report, private equity companies Cinven and Advent have teamed up to table a joint bid for Nestle Skin Health, which sources believe values the company at CHF7bn (US$7bn). It is reported that other private equity companies, including Blackstone, KKR and Carlyle, are likewise poised to make bids, while sources also say that Merz Pharma is interested and looking for private equity partners. 

In terms of the timeline, Nestle’s Board of Directors decided to explore strategic options for the skin health business in September 2018, after concluding that future growth opportunities lay increasingly outside the group’s strategic scope. Information memos on the sale, being run by Credit Suisse and Evercore, are expected to be sent by the end of this month and first-round bids are likely to be submitted in early March.

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Nestle Skin Health divides its portfolio into two units – its range of largely Rx “medical solutions” marketed under the Galderma umbrella and its “consumer solutions”.  Differin Gel is one example of a Galderma Rx skin care medicine which has been switched to OTC status, gaining FDA approval in 2016 and launched in the US in early 2017. Despite being the first genuinely new allopathic treatment in the acne category, Differin sales only reached US$17mn in the brand’s first full year since switch, leading Nestle to revamp the brand in late 2017 with line extensions and packaging updates.

Nestle Skin Health’s key consumer brands are Cetaphil, Loceryl and Benzac, as well as the home treatment acne programme Proactiv. Cetaphil is its key OTC brand, according to DB6, thanks to its expansive range and wide skin care positioning, from eczema & psoriasis to acne and anti-itch. Cetaphil Dermacontrol and Cetaphil Restoraderm are both well-established in the US market, while Cetaphil also has a strong presence in Australia, Brazil, Germany and several Middle Eastern countries.

Nicholas Hall’s recent report, Dermatologicals: Trends, Innovations, Opportunities, analyses the Derma market from the global level down to individual category-by-category reviews. This key report also examines medical devices, cosmeceuticals and much, much more. It covers launch activity, innovations and emerging niches, spanning a range of categories, including eczema & psoriasis, cold sore treatments and wound care. To purchase your copy or to find out more, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

Futuristic “smart bandages” can repair your body

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Bandage technology has gradually been revolutionised in the 100 years since Band-Aids were first introduced. Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Harvard Medical School and MIT are now ready to introduce the next century of wound care with the “smart bandage”.

The smart bandage has individual fibres that store medications which can be later implemented using a smartphone or another mobile device. The bandage is made up of electrically conductive fibres that are coated in a gel that can house medications. Antibiotics and painkillers can be used within the bandage, and possibly many other effective combinations that will enhance recovery.

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Individual fibres can then be activated via voltage from a connected micro-controller no larger than a post stamp using a connected mobile device. Ali Tamayol, Assistant Professor of Mechanical & Materials Engineering at Nebraska, explained: “This is the first bandage that is capable of dose-dependent drug release, you can release multiple drugs with different release profiles.”

This is an exciting platform that can potentially be applied to many different areas of biomedical engineering and medicine. Not only could it be useful for dealing with battlefield injuries, it could also help in the treatment of chronic wounds, which are common in patients living with diabetes.

This is not the only “next gen” bandage in development. A team from Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science has created bandages laden with nano-scale sensors that can instantaneously transmit health information to medical professionals using 5G wireless data.

Eczema sufferers offered new hope

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

Nix Ultra Tackles Super Lice Epidemic

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This week, OTCs In Action are targeting the not so nit-picking issue of super lice. For the past few months, the head-scratching solution to the problem of how to defy new bionic strains of lice has plagued traditional OTC pesticide marketers.

New evidence from The Journal of Medical Entomology (JME) found that head lice have developed resistance to two types of common OTC insecticide treatments for lice infestation. Over the past year, 98% of head lice in at least 42 states managed to grow gene mutations that enabled the (super) lice to become resistant to pyrethrins, pyrethriods and permethrin.

However, the invasion of the mutant lice shall no longer reign. Prestige Brands have launched a new product, Nix Ultra, to tackle the super lice epidemic. Nix Ultra safely kills both traditional and super lice, as well as their eggs.

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The combination of mineral oil and dimethicone provides optimal coating and coverage of both lice and hair, creating a slippery surface so lice and eggs, even the pesky super strain, can be easily removed.

This is one of just a few super lice OTC treatment products available on the US market and, with super lice rapidly spreading in the US, there certainly (for now) seems to be a safe and reliable solution for worried parents.

OTCs In Action: Making Sunscreen Fun

This month, OTCs are in Action in South Africa, where ad agency FCB Cape Town made sun safety fun with a giant inflatable Nivea Sunslide that dispensed sunscreen. Equipped with goggles for protecting their eyes from the lotion, kids – and some adults – had a great time slipping on their sunscreen during the event.

FCB thought up the SunSlide campaign after learning that South Africa has the world’s highest rate of skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. The massive water slide is equipped with hundreds of spray-jet portals and filled up with 50 litres (roughly 13 gallons) of SPF 50+ waterproof sunscreen to ensure all participants get equal coverage.

 

Last year, FCB Brazil was lauded for the Nivea doll campaign, which gave Brazilian children hands-on experience with sun-sensitive dolls that would turn lobster red if Nivea sunscreen was not applied in time.

Sunscreen ingredients are classified differently around the world – cosmetics in many countries, drugs in the US – but their efficacy in disease prevention is undisputed. Of course, that’s only if people use them – kudos to FCB for brilliant consumer behaviour tweaks!