Natural & Organic a focus for M&A and innovation

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Continuing our series of blogs on the 10 Infinity Zones for future CHC growth recently outlined by Nicholas Hall, in this edition we take a closer look at natural & organic products. This is by no means a new trend, but it’s certainly one increasingly on the radar of multinationals, as exemplified by J&J’s recent purchase of Zarbee’s Naturals.

Among herbal & natural cough remedies, Zarbee’s has been gaining share on rivals such as Little Remedies, Hyland’s and Chestal, while also growing faster than most medicated OTC cough remedies. Another growth driver in the US market is Maty’s all-natural and organic range, including honey-based cough remedies, while Unilever recently bought Olly Nutrition, another range of VMS products with a strong emphasis on natural ingredients, such as the 10 phytonutrients in its Super Foods Multi line.

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A+P for most herbal & natural products often emphasises the importance of quality standards and – increasingly – organic and responsibly-­sourced ingredients. In China, the No.1 probiotic brand Biostime (Health & Happiness for Institut Rosell) is promoted on the basis of the organic sourcing of its ingredients, while marketing involving brand ambassador Juliette Binoche also emphasises the natural heritage of the brand.

According to OTC New Products Tracker, the number of launches that include the word “organic” either in their branding or list of ingredients is growing fast, with 246 innovations in 2018 vs 168 in 2017 and just 81 in 2016. Over half of these products are unsurprisingly classified as vitamins, minerals & supplements, however there is also a growing number of “organic” Lifestyle OTCs, especially among medical cannabis products, sedatives & sleep aids and stimulants.

Last chance to pre-order Nicholas Hall’s New Paradigms for CHC 2019: Over the Horizon, written by Nicholas himself! Examine each aspect of the CHC industry in 20 chapters, with a focus on major issues including Regulation, Pharmacy Point-of-Care, M&A, Switch and much more. Nicholas will also unveil the “infinity zones” he has identified as being crucial to the future growth of the industry. In addition to this, you can upgrade your purchase to include a customised in-house presentation or webinar with Nicholas for an additional GB£10,000. To find out more or to place your order, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

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Prevention better (and growing faster) than cure

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For many years now, Nicholas Hall has been highlighting how OTC subcategories focused on prevention are growing faster than those directed towards treatment or intervention. This long-term trend in the CHC industry continues to take root, thanks to the growing power of categories like probiotics (another Infinity Zone, covered in last week’s blog).

At this year’s Vienna conference, Nicholas Hall presented a slide of the fastest-growing OTC subcategories by CAGR (2014-18), comparing those focused on prevention with those centred around treatment, and this showed that seven of the Top 10 most dynamic subcategories in recent years had a preventive focus. Sexual health is a relatively new driver of this trend, with two subcategories in the Top 5 – erectile dysfunction and emergency hormonal contraception.

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Vitamins, minerals & supplements have long been the main driver of this prevention trend, with probiotics and vitamin D the two key subcategories. Innovation and niche product positioning (i.e. to prevent allergies, candidiasis, age-related illnesses, etc) have helped fuel probiotics growth, while the dynamism of vitamin D sales has been driven by rising awareness of the high levels of deficiency in many markets and the benefits  of supplementation.

Herbal memory & brain health is an increasingly attractive subcategory, as exemplified by RB’s recent launch of Neuriva, a new product designed to support “brain fitness” and prevent cognitive decline. Royal jelly is taken widely in Europe and Asia-Pacific as a way to prevent fatigue, while just outside the Top 10 in CAGR terms are magnesium, zinc, pregnancy vitamins and hair & beauty supplements. According to OTC New Products Tracker, the latter was the fifth most active OTC subcategory in 2018 in terms of launch activity, with 150 innovations.

Last chance to pre-order Nicholas Hall’s New Paradigms for CHC 2019: Over the Horizon, written by Nicholas himself! Examine each aspect of the CHC industry in 20 chapters, with a focus on major issues including Regulation, Pharmacy Point-of-Care, M&A, Switch and much more. Nicholas will also unveil the “infinity zones” he has identified as being crucial to the future growth of the industry. In addition to this, you can upgrade your purchase to include a customised in-house presentation or webinar with Nicholas for an additional GB£10,000. To find out more or to place your order, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

Sleep disorders on the rise globally

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According to a new in-depth analysis of the global sleep aids market by Nicholas Hall’s Reports, sleeplessness and sleep disorders are on the rise, with approximately one third of the world’s population affected. Many consumers are happy to self-medicate, increasingly opting for a variety of herbal & natural, homeopathic and medical device brands, driving OTC growth in key markets like Brazil and Spain (see sample pages).

In terms of sales, sleep aids & sedatives generate an OTC total of over US$2.3bn globally, but have been characterised by low growth in recent years, and are in need of rejuvenation via new product development, adjacencies or connected health solutions. The self-medication sleep aids market (registered OTCs and a variety of supplements) also suffers from regulatory diversity across markets for common sleep aid ingredients.

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Genuine innovation is thin on the ground, but generics and “me-toos” launch frequently. Adjacencies focused on sleep offer alternatives, with other categories also entering the fray including nighttime analgesics, cough & cold remedies, menopause and other supplements. Connected Health is a key area of expansion. Sleep aid brands partnered with technology – passive (e.g. analysing sleep patterns / providing feedback) or active (improving sleep) – may break the low-growth cycle.

Comment from Ian Crook, Managing Editor, Nicholas Hall’s Reports: Sleep is a health area that lends itself easily to self-medication via sedating antihistamines and herbal & natural ingredients such as melatonin and valerian, while medical devices and digital health focused on sleep are seeing increased investment. With widespread concern over the “sleep loss epidemic” and significant implications for overall health from lack of sleep, it is imperative that consumers have access to tools to help them sleep. Raised levels of stress, anxiety and smartphone / tablet use ensure rising demand that can be tapped into by the right self-care solutions.

The full report, Sleep: Exploring Opportunities for Growth in Sleep Aids & Sedatives, is available now and more details can be found here. To order your copy, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com

2018 Trends: Medical Cannabis

One trend to watch in 2018 is the growing number of medical cannabis consumer healthcare products, with launch activity focused on North America. A recent development was the licensing deal between Level Brands, a marketing and licensing company that provides branding for businesses, and Canadian-based company Isodiol, which commercialises 99%+ pure, bioactive pharmaceutical grade cannabinoids, with products including body balm, tincture, skin care, nano-mist and functional beverages.

Isodiol will work with Level Brands to develop consumer products for kathy ireland Health & Wellness, a licensor to Level Brands, and for Level Brands subsidiary I’M1, a lifestyle brand for men. During the 5-year term of the agreement, Level Brands will receive an initial US$2mn in the form of Isodiol shares, then US$750,000 per quarter (also in the form of Isodiol shares) and a 3% royalty on gross sales. The new Isodiol kathy ireland Health & Wellness and I’M1 products are expected to debut in mid-to-late spring 2018 online and in select retail stores.

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Outside North America, Q4 2017 saw a number of significant developments in the medical cannabis category, which will likely translate into increased launch activity in 2018. In October 2017, biotech start-up CIITECH announced the availability of Herbalica’s non-psychoactive, cannabidiol supplements to UK consumers via www.essentialcannabinoids.co.uk. The range of 5 supplements includes products for anxiety, ovulation pain and insomnia. The CBD compound is considered a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety agent, with researchers suggesting it could ease chronic pain. Israeli-based Herbalica’s parent company HerbalTune has developed and supplied a range of therapeutic, botanical products to the local market for the past three years.

In Asia-Pacific, the New Zealand Government introduced a bill earlier this month to legalise medicinal cannabis in the country. The bill seeks to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act to make a specific exemption for any person with a qualifying medical condition to grow, process or use cannabis plants and products for therapeutic purposes, provided they have support from a registered medical practitioner. The move, which follows Australia’s legalisation of medicinal cannabis in 2016, aims to make the ingredient more readily available for those suffering with chronic pain or terminal illness. At the same time, Australia announced that it aims to become the fourth country after Uruguay, Canada and the Netherlands to legalise exports of medicinal cannabis.

Voice-activated tech shows potential for diabetes care

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Diabetes affects 422mn people worldwide, including 14% of the US adult population and people in low and middle-income countries such as China, India, Brazil and Indonesia. To successfully manage diabetes, people living with it need to be mindful of and track myriad things throughout their day, from blood sugar levels to counting calories. In recent years voice-activated technologies have become an important way of helping sufferers manage their disease.

In this regard, Danish pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk, has teamed up with Health Innovation Technology Lab (HITLAB) to launch the 2017 HITLAB World Cup of Voice-Activated Technology in Diabetes, awarding prizes totalling US$75,000.

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Participating innovators have been told to focus on enhancing patient outcomes, lowering healthcare costs and making the management of patients more efficient, with the goal of improving health and quality of life for diabetes sufferers.

Amy West, Senior Director, Patient Centric Marketing & Digital Health at Novo Nordisk commented: “We are constantly striving to provide solutions that minimise the burden for people living with diabetes, and believe that digital health, and specifically voice-activated technologies can be important tools for managing diabetes.”

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HITLAB has helped leading organisations create and evaluate technology-based solutions to pressing healthcare challenges for the past 25 years. Last year, 74 teams from 14 countries presented technology innovations that ranged from a tech-enabled dynamic scoliosis brace to a tool that uses 3D imaging and data analytics to better diagnose ear infections. Past winners have since raised over US$50mn in follow-on investment funding.

The submission period is currently open and will close on Wednesday 11th October. Finalists will be announced on 23rd October. They will make pitches at the HITLAB Innovators Summit, which will be held in New York City. Pitches will be judged by a panel of healthcare experts assigned by Novo Nordisk and HITLAB.

HIV / AIDS home test kits seized over potential false results

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has seized 114 Hightop HIV/AIDS Home Test Kits, which could be potentially misleading in providing false results. The agency has advised that anyone who has used the kit should seek a further HIV test at a local sexual health clinic or through a GP.

A statement issued by the MHRA stated: “All UK based stock of Hightop HIV/AIDS Home Test Kit have been seized by MHRA and all sales of the product into the UK market have been stopped by the manufacturer”

The statement continued: “The HIV kits, manufactured by Qingdao Hightop Biotech Co Ltd, do not have a valid CE mark which means the product has not met a number of regulatory requirements concerning test performance, labelling and instructions for use.”

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Self-testing kits for HIV became legal in the UK from 6 April 2014, but buyers have always been warned to carefully check the CE mark before purchasing any kit. Self-test kit users who purchase kits online or from the high street should know what they are buying is safe and reliable. MHRA is currently investigating the issue with experts at Public Health England.

John Wilkinson, MHRA’s director of devices commented: “If you are concerned you may have used an unreliable test kit, speak to your GP, sexual health clinic, pharmacist or other healthcare professional”. He further added: “Make sure the kit has a CE mark and clearly states that it is intended for home self-testing. Don’t use a test kit if it’s damaged or the seal is broken.”

MHRA strongly suggests consumers should only buy a self-test kit from a reputable source, such as an online pharmacy registered with the MHRA. In the UK, online pharmacies must be registered with the MHRA and display the European common logo on every page of their website. While home self-test kits for HIV and STIs have many benefits, including letting people test in their own space and on their own terms, there’s equal concern surrounding their use.

According to recent surveys there are more than 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK and around a quarter of them don’t know they’re HIV positive.

Wearable Sensor Device Helps Visually Impaired Sense Environment

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VTT TecVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a wearable assistive device for the visually impaired, which enables them to sense their environment and move around more safely. The device, which is worn like a heart rate monitor, has been clinically tested.

The device functions on the basis of a radar system developed by VTT. The radar sends information to the user in the form of vibrations or voice feedback. It senses a majority of obstacles in the user’s surroundings, however difficulties do however remain in sensing objects such as thin branches and bushes.

“The novel aspect lies in a wearable sensor device which functions based on radio waves, so the signal is able to pass through clothing. This means that it can be worn discreetly under a coat, for example,” says Tero Kiuru, a Senior Scientist at VTT.

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The radar has already been clinically tested in device trials approved by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira), in which VTT’s partners were Kuopio University Hospital and the Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired (FFVI). The test group included a total of 25 visually impaired people, of whom 14 were blind, 7 partially sighted and 4 were deaf-blind.

“A clear majority of the testers felt that the radar improved their ability to perceive their environment and increased their self-confidence when moving around,” says Kiuru. A total of 92% of the trial users felt that the device helped them to perceive their surroundings, 80% felt that their trust in their ability to move around independently had increased and 32% would immediately start using the test device in its current form.

On the other hand, they were not satisfied with distance control and vibration-based feedback. The research will continue with selected test users and the device will be further developed. A global market is believed to exist for the radar, since there are around 300 million visually impaired people in the world.