J&J, Sandoz seek digital health breakthroughs

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Two stories we picked up this past week involve key OTC marketers, J&J and Sandoz (Novartis), and new digital healthcare initiatives. J&J subsidiary Janssen announced it is collaborating with Apple by conducting a multi-year research study investigating whether the Apple Watch can detect the onset of a stroke.

The study, due to begin later this year and tracking people aged 65+, will explore whether using a medication adherence app from J&J, in combination with Apple Watch’s ECG app, helps to accelerate diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (AFib) and improve healthcare outcomes, including the prevention of stroke. Paul Stoffels, J&J’s Chief Scientific Officer, also said: “Based on the insights generated through this research programme, we may be able to develop new ways to detect other health conditions earlier in the future that also exhibit measurable physiological symptoms.”

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Sandoz has also just announced the three finalists for its second Sandoz Healthcare Access Challenge (HACk). After receiving 400 digital technology submissions from 80 countries, Sandoz narrowed the finalists down to entries from Uganda, the Netherlands and the USA. Finalists take part in a 4-day “accelerator event” in Austin, Texas in March 2019, working with Sandoz to refine their ideas into scalable solutions ahead of final judging. The three finalists are as follows:

  1. Uganda: The Mobile Clinic plans to develop an app that can be used to make emergency appointments via a toll-free number and will be directly linked to a mobile van clinic offering door-to-door services in rural areas.
  2. USA: Regulora is in development as a prescription-only digital therapeutic for IBS based on Gut Directed Hypnotherapy. The mobile app connects patients with automated digital therapy sessions from the comfort of their own home.
  3. Netherlands: Social Genomics is building an AI-based smart social network, enabling people with rare and undiagnosed diseases to connect and share stories, providing access to global real-world patient data insights about treatment options and scientific research.

Explore How Digital is Changing People’s Relationship with Health from Milena Leone, Head of Innovation and Digital Consumer Healthcare, Sanofi at Nicholas Hall’s 30th European CHC Conference in Vienna on 2-4 April 2019. Nicholas Hall will be also be joined by speakers from GSK, HRA Pharma and Prohibition Partners among many others to ensure that you are Keeping Up with the Digital Consumer. The meeting will also feature a workshop from The CHC Training Academy, enabling you to Embrace Digital Transformation. Book before 4 February and save up to GB£300 with our early bird discounts. To find out more, please contact Elizabeth.Bernos@NicholasHall.com.

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Uncertain economic outlook in 2019

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As well as the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, another cloud on the economic horizon for 2019 is the health of the US retail sector. According to a report over the weekend by the FT, shares in US retailers are set for their biggest quarterly sell-off since the financial crisis. This follows weak economic data in Asia-Pacific, especially China where retail sales hit a 15-year low in November 2018, and Europe, prompting concerns about a global economic slowdown.

Tariffs, and the threat of tariffs, have been one factor. Some US retailers are reportedly now having to offload surplus stock at a heavy discount, after accelerating imports in recent months to avoid planned higher tariffs (which are now on hold), while the fall in industrial output in China is partly linked to US tariffs that have been imposed. Also, concerns have resurfaced among investors about the ability of bricks & mortar retailers to navigate the e-commerce revolution. As a result, shares in various US retailers have fallen sharply, from high-end to mass market chains, like Target (down 23%).

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Amazon shares have also declined this quarter, though the e-commerce giant still looks on course to disrupt pharmaceutical distribution and reimbursement in 2019, a fact that hasn’t eluded many top pharma executives. J&J CEO, Alex Gorsky, in an interview with Fortune, said: “We have conversations at all levels going on with Amazon. I think Jeff (Bezos) and as importantly Amazon is a very innovative organisation, and they see this as an opportunity to make a difference. Just as we are partnering with them today in areas of our consumer products, we’ll look forward to partnering with them in the future in some of these other areas as well.”

Pfizer Chairman & CEO Ian Read also said late last year: “Any system of distribution that can cut costs and get a wide availability of products to patients is something that the whole industry would be interested in.” This disruption to pharma distribution, allied with the current economic uncertainty, looks set to make for a volatile year in 2019. According to Nicholas Hall, the “Big Beasts of Big Pharma are right. Amazon and Alibaba are today the most powerful disruptors of the healthcare industry. Some brand marketers will embrace this change, most will not … until it’s too late.” 

Nicholas Hall’s New Paradigms for CHC 2019: Over the Horizon, our upcoming new Signature Report written by Nicholas, focuses on a range of important issues surrounding the CHC Market, including Innovation, Success Factors, Digital Engagement, Competition and much more. It is an essential read for all players striving to compete in this rapidly evolving marketplace. To find out more or to place your order, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com

MAT Q2 2018: 5 Key Trends & Developments

Our latest Q2 2018 trend reports on the OTC market at global, regional and Top 20 level are now available on the OTC DASHBOARD website. Here we highlight some of the key trends & developments that have emerged in the latest data.

  1. Europe and Asia drive CCA upturn: Improving CCA growth helped the global OTC market report a slight upturn in Q2 (+4.2%). This followed a return to CCA growth in Europe (+2.7%) in Q2 2018, powered by the UK (+5.8%) and Germany (+4.1%), while France (+0.5%) also returned to positive territory. CCA growth in Asia-Pacific (+5.7%) likewise improved in Q2, thanks to a clear upturn for Systemic cold & flu (+4.7%), with key markets like S Korea enjoying high growth (+6.6%) on the back of OTC innovations such as the relaunch of Dong-A’s Pantec Q.
  2. Sanofi reclaims the No.3 spot from J&J: While GSK maintains its clear lead as the global OTC No.1 marketer, a tight three-way race remains in play for the No.2 spot between Bayer, Sanofi and J&J. Bayer is still the global No.2, while Sanofi reclaimed its position as the global No.3 in Q2 2018, moving ahead of J&J. In Sanofi’s Q2 results, the company reported a return to OTC growth in Europe and a continued strong rise in Emerging Markets, especially in Latin America. The company reported a CCA upturn in both regions, offsetting US allergy decline.
  3. US market behind VMS upturn: Higher Q2 growth in North America’s vast supplements market (+4.0%) has been the key trend behind the improving global picture. In Q2, multivitamins (+2.8%) underwent a clear upturn while the trend for probiotics (+6.9%) and immune supplements (+10.4%) also improved. The latter category has been a particularly vibrant source of OTC innovation in recent months; for example, Nestle has launched elderberry immune gummies as part of its mykind Organics line, while post-surgery immunity supplements and those with a digestive health crossover have also been popular.
  4. Where’s the growth potential? 1. Adjacencies: OTC marketers are increasingly looking to build new consumer healthcare adjacencies, either via switch – in the case of erectile dysfunction and Pfizer’s Viagra Connect – or new product innovation, in the case of medical cannabis. Canada recently voted to legalise cannabis, though the future for CBD and THC supplements remains uncertain. We don’t yet include sales of medical cannabis products in OTC DASHBOARD, though we do track developments in this category closely in both our innovation database, OTC New Products Tracker, and regulatory newsletter, OTC.NewDirections.
  5. Where’s the growth potential? 2. New territories: Rest of World countries (mainly Middle East & Africa) enjoyed continued high in Q2 2018, with sales up 6.6% in the 12 months to end-June 2018, to total US$9.2bn. High growth for analgesics (+7.2%) and CCA products (+6.7%) ensured a strong regional rise overall, allied with a dynamic performance in the key regional market of Turkey (+13.3%). RB is one marketer performing well in the region, claiming a spot among the Top 5 OTC marketers in Q2 2018, following dynamic growth of its CCA portfolio, powered by sore throat remedy Strepsils and its strong support via A+P and line extensions.

With M&A activity in the CHC industry increasing rapidly, now may be the right time for your business to explore growth opportunities. Our specialist M&A boutique is working with a number of strategic and financial partners to assess potential opportunities — for buyers and sellers — and is well placed to discuss the current business climate and possible synergies. To find out more, please contact ammar.basit@NicholasHall.com

J&J to buy Zarbee’s

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J&J Consumer has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire natural healthcare products company Zarbee’s Naturals for an undisclosed sum. With a 50% CAGR, the Zarbee’s Naturals business racked up sales of US$68mn in 2017, according to Nicholas Hall’s global OTC sales database DB6, and there is lots of room for growth ahead.

J&J’s VMS portfolio accounts for just 0.1% of its total consumer healthcare business, so the Zarbee’s deal will provide a significant boost (see the table from OTC DASHBOARD below showing J&J’s current OTC sales split by major category). There will also be scope to build the brand internationally – at present, Zarbee’s focus is almost exclusively on the US market, so J&J will likely use its considerable marketing muscle to roll out the brand in other key regions where it has a strong presence, like Europe and Asia-Pacific.

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Founded in 2008, Zarbee’s Naturals is majority owned by the Growth Fund of L Catterton in partnership with various minority owners, including Sorenson Capital. The deal, which is expected to complete in Q3 2018, will include the full line of Zarbee’s Naturals products for children and adults.

Product innovation has been one of the main drivers behind exceptional growth for Zarbee’s Naturals. In April 2018, the company introduced three Children’s Complete Multivitamins in a gummy format, including Complete Multivitamin + Iron, Complete Multivitamin + Probiotic and Complete Multivitamin + Immune. In partnership with Amazon, Zarbee’s also released a Baby Bee Essentials Gift Set complete with a bee romper and products such as Gripe Water and petroleum-free Baby Soothing Chest Rub. Paediatric products like these will fit well with J&J’s family-friendly image.

As Health and Wellness climbs up the list of consumer priorities, the market for herbal and natural options is booming. Take a look at what the future holds for this market with Nicholas Hall’s upcoming report Herbals & Naturals: Opportunities in a Vast & Dynamic Area of Consumer Health. Scheduled for publication in August, this report will include coverage of 9 leading global markets, analysis into a wide range of categories including Herbal & Natural Supplements, Topical Analgesics, Cough Remedies, Laxatives and more, plus forecast sales. Benefit from early bird rates when you pre-order today! For more information, or to pre-order your copy, please contact melissa.lee@nicholashall.com.

MAT Q1 2018: 5 key trends & developments

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Our latest Q1 2018 trend reports on the OTC market at global, regional and Top 20 level are now available on the OTC DASHBOARD website. Here we highlight some of the key trends & developments that have emerged in the latest data.

  1. Growth draining out of allergy remedies: In the MAT Q1 2018 period, global growth of OTC allergy remedies slowed to just +0.2%. Compare this with a rate of +3.7% in the year-ago MAT Q1 2017 period, and +10.3% in the MAT Q1 2016 period. This gradual slowdown, caused primarily by a drop-off in Rx-to-OTC switch activity, has been one of several key factors in the continued low growth of the global OTC market (+4.1%) in Q1.
  2. J&J edges ahead of Sanofi: The latest MAT Q1 2018 data indicates that J&J is now the No.3 OTC marketer globally, marginally ahead of Sanofi and just behind Bayer. Every one of the Top 5 OTC marketers grew at a rate below that of the global OTC market in the MAT Q1 2018 period, indicating the difficulty in finding new growth opportunities and the continued emphasis on M&A.
  3. Has probiotics growth peaked? Though it remains high at +9.2% in the year to end-March 2018, the global growth of the probiotics category has slowed over the past year, when compared with a rate of +14.0% in the year-ago MAT Q1 2017 period, and +10.8% in the MAT Q1 2016 period. Innovation and expansion of the category into new countries and niches, such as diabetes, have fuelled its growth thus far, but we’ll be keeping a close eye over coming quarters to see if this trend is a temporary blip or the start of a long-term slowdown.
  4. Where’s the growth potential? 1. Adjacencies: OTC marketers are increasingly looking to build new consumer healthcare adjacencies, either via switch – in the case of erectile dysfunction and Pfizer’s Viagra Connect – or new product innovation, in the case of medical cannabis. Though we don’t yet include sales of medical cannabis products in OTC DASHBOARD, we do track developments in this category closely in both our innovation database, OTC New Products Tracker, and regulatory newsletter, OTC.NewDirections.
  5. Where’s the growth potential? 2. New territories: Coverage of the OTC market in the Middle East & Africa is one of the main benefits of being an OTC DASHBOARD subscriber, and looking at the latest Q1 data highlights the importance of this region to the relative success of GSK and RB. GSK performed better than the rest of the Top 5, with its CCA brand Otrivin moving up the Middle East & Africa rankings to the No.3 spot in Q1 after double-digit growth, while global No.6 RB (+4.4%) outperformed the global OTC rate thanks in part to the high MEA growth of Gaviscon and Strepsils.

Explore how we can innovate (and manage the impact of regulatory challenges) at our 1st OTC.NewDirections Executive Conference in London on 12th September 2018Where Innovation meets Regulation. Nicholas Hall and Nina Stimson will be joined by speakers from Medical Brands, Angelini and Arqus Advisory among others to review, discuss and debate major issues impacting the competitive landscape in an industry in which the regulatory goalposts are continually moving. Sessions span New Product Opportunities, Regulatory Affairs (including the potential impact of Brexit across the EU), Medical Devices, Switch, Digital Marketing, New Distribution and e-Commerce. Don’t hesitate — book before 31 July to save with our early-bird discount! For more information on this pivotal meeting, please contact Lianne.Hill@nicholashall.com

Flu Trends: USA, UK seeing 2018 spike

Though it’s difficult to build a comprehensive picture of flu trends across the globe, reports suggest that January 2018 has seen a spike in flu activity in North America and Europe. In its full-year 2017 results, J&J also cited growth for its upper respiratory category as one of the trends underpinning a 3.7% rise (+2.6% organically) for its OTC division in 2017. This included strong Q4 growth for its CCA brands in the Asia-Pacific region, suggesting that cold & flu activity is robust across the northern hemisphere.

According to reports, the US is in the grip of its strongest cough, cold & flu season for almost a decade. In mid-January, Brenda Fitzgerald, Director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, said: “We are currently in the midst of a very active flu season. With much of the country experiencing widespread and intense flu activity … so far this season, influenza A, H3N2, has been the most common form of influenza. These viruses are often linked to more severe illness, especially among children and people age 65 and older. When H3 viruses are predominant, we tend to have a worse flu season with more hospitalizations and more deaths. While our surveillance systems show that nationally the flu season may be peaking now, we know from past experience that it will take many more weeks for flu activity to truly slow down.”

As the chart above shows, the percentage of US patients visiting their doctor with ILI (influenza-like illness) has peaked sharply in late 2017 / early 2018, reaching levels not seen since the 2009-10 flu season. Similarly, in the UK, reports suggest this has been the worst flu season for seven years – since the 2010-11 swine flu epidemic – with doctors visits for suspected flu rising sharply in certain parts of the country (in Wales, they recorded a fourfold increase to 64.9 cases per 100,000).

As we make our way through Q4 2017 results season, we’ll keep a close eye on how this spike in flu activity is reflected in the CCA performance of various OTC marketers, though it may be that we have to wait until the Q1 2018 results come in to see the full effect of this trend.

Q1 2017: Early analysis of the global OTC performance

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Nicholas Hall’s global OTC database, DB6, has just published its latest figures relating to the Q1 2017 performance of the OTC market, and below are some standout trends based on early analysis of the data. Over the coming weeks, our OTC INSIGHT research teams will be compiling the latest trend info at a regional and Top 20 country level, and we’ll alert you as soon as this analysis has been uploaded to the OTC DASHBOARD website.

1. Russia returns to higher growth (+18.2% MAT Q1 2017 vs +11.3% full-year 2016)

A key factor in the slightly improved performance of the global OTC market in the 12 months to end-March 2017 (+4.5%) vs full-year 2016 (+4.3%) was higher growth in Russia. While a modest upturn in the world’s No.1 OTC market, USA, was offset by decelerating growth for both No.2 market China and No.3 market Japan, it was the European countries – largely No.5 Russia, but also No.4 Germany – that accounted for the improved performance of the global OTC market in Q1 2017.

2. CCA growth at the heart of Europe’s revived fortunes in Q1 2017

Global CCA sales were up 4.7% in 2016, thanks to a strong end to the year, and this trend continued into the first quarter of 2017, with growth accelerating to 6.3% in the MAT Q1 2017 period. Europe was largely behind this upsurge, with CCA growth in Western Europe showing a marked improvement (+3.8%), while Central & Eastern Europe was the biggest source of dynamism (+17.8%), led by Russia and Poland. This trend extended to the rest of the northern hemisphere, with North America also reporting higher CCA growth (+4.4%) in the MAT Q1 2017 period, with Canada especially vibrant (+6.9%).

3. Global Top 5 stays the same, but J&J may overtake Sanofi by mid-year

While the Top 5 global OTC marketers – GSK, Bayer, Sanofi, J&J and Pfizer – remain fixed in position and adrift from the rest of the competition, the battle for the No.3 spot between Sanofi (+3.8%) and J&J (+4.1%) continues to intensify. On current trends, it looks as though J&J may overtake Sanofi by the end of Q2 2017, and we will confirm the outcome of this battle later in the year.

In the meantime, please check your weekly briefings and OTC DASHBOARD‘s Charts & Graphs archive for more early analysis of the Q1 2017 results over the coming weeks.