Time’s 100 Best Inventions of 2019

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Time magazine has just published its annual round-up of the 100 best innovations – based on key factors such as originality, creativity, influence, ambition and effectiveness – and healthcare was the best represented category with 10 innovations in 2019. Most have been designed for use in primary care settings, such as GE Healthcare’s new Senographe Pristina with Dueta mammogram, but there were several innovations designed for consumer use.

One of these is Tivic Health’s ClearUp, which was added to our OTC New Products Tracker database following its launch in September 2019. Positioned as a drug-free handheld device to treat sinus pain owing to allergic rhinitis, ClearUp delivers microcurrent waveforms to sinus nerves under the cheek, nose and brow bone. The medical device provides three intensity levels for personalised usage, and each treatment takes five minutes to perform and lasts for up to six hours.

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Tivic Health’s ClearUp for sinus pain

Also on the Time Best 100 Innovations of 2019 list were portable ultrasound device Butterfly iQ, Theranica’s drug-free migraine treatment Nerivio and handheld doctor examination kit TytoCare. The latter retails for US$299 and has been designed to eliminate the need for a doctor visit by examining the lungs, ears, skin and throat with special adapters and then video­conferencing a doctor to monitor the metrics in real time. According to TytoCare CEO Dedi Gilad: “It transforms primary care by putting health in the hands of consumers.”

As for Nerivio, it was described as the “first smartphone-controlled acute migraine-relief wearable device” when it gained de novo FDA approval in May 2019. The medical device, which is not suitable for people with chronic migraine, is placed on the upper arm and uses smartphone-controlled electronic pulses to create a Conditioned Pain Modulation (CPM) response. Alon Ironi, CEO and co-founder of Theranica, has said the product will be launched at an “affordable price” when it comes to market in 2020.

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Tracker hits 20,000 innovations

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Our sister product OTC New Products Tracker has hit a significant milestone – 20,000 innovations added to a database that tracks consumer healthcare launch activity all the way back to the start of 2013, across 20 key markets. In this week’s blog, we look back at some of the highest-ranked innovations added to the archive over the past year.

A recent 4-star innovation is medical device Flow from Flow Neuroscience, a first of its kind home treatment on the European market. Positioned as a non-medicated alternative treatment for depression, the medical device comprises a brain stimulation headset and a therapy app. While stimulation is in use, the app acts as a virtual therapist that the user can interact with. Available in the UK since summer 2019, Flow retails for £399.

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Adjacent OTC categories have been fuelling the fire of consumer healthcare innovation in recent years, with medical cannabis / CBD and probiotics two of the most active categories in terms of launch activity. US marketer CBDfx is arguably the most pioneering innovator among the new wave of medical cannabis companies, launching several new delivery formats over the past two years, including vaping pens (January 2018), “chill shot” drinks for anxiety (March 2019), sublingual hemp strips (April 2019) and acne face masks (June 2019).

Like CBD, probiotics have also enjoyed high levels of innovation in terms of delivery formats and positioning. Two examples of probiotics targeting a new consumer healthcare niche include Elebiotic, a recent Recordati launch in Spain positioned to manage recurrent acute otitis media in infants, and Khan’s Morning, a probiotic launched in South Korea in early 2019 that is claimed to help break down the alcohol and acetaldehyde that causes hangovers.

Review 20,000+ launches and innovations with OTC New Products Tracker, the ultimate competitive intelligence tool! Products are graded with a star rating, from 1* (essentially “me too” and generics) up to 4* (1st Rx-to-OTC switches in a category, creation of a new OTC class or other major leaps in innovation). 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, please contact waisan.lee-gabell@NicholasHall.com.

Apple Watch Series 4 “first ECG product offered OTC”

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At its autumn keynote event last week, Apple announced upgrades to several of its products, including the Apple Watch Series 4. The smartwatch’s potential as an essential healthcare device is now being more fully realised, with Apple receiving Class II “de novo” FDA clearance for the Apple Watch’s innovative ECG and atrial fibrillation (AFib) features. COO Jeff Williams called Apple Watch Series 4 “the first ECG product offered over-the-counter directly to consumers”, though AliveCor has contested this claim.

One of the announcements that drew the greatest applause at the event was the unveiling of the new ECG app, which can take a reading and provide results in around 30 seconds. Results are derived not just from the second-generation electrical heart sensor in the back crystal of the watch, but also electrodes in the Digital Crown, which must be pressed down by fingertip during the reading. Users are then given a heart rhythm classification, with a normal rhythm classified as “Sinus Rhythm”.

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A new operating system (watchOS 5) also ensures that the new electrical heart sensor intermittently works in the background, notifying users if their heart rate appears to be too high or low, or if there are signs of an irregular heart rhythm, such as those suggestive of AFib. If detected, the new Apple Watch prompts users to “talk to your doctor”, while also ensuring that all recordings, along with associated classifications and any noted symptoms, are stored in the Health app in a PDF that can be shared with health professionals.

Another innovative healthcare feature is Apple Watch Series 4’s ability to detect falls, thanks to it new gyroscope and accelerometer. This hardware allows for analysis of wrist trajectory and impact acceleration – after a fall, an alert is sent to the user, which can be dismissed or used to initiate a call to emergency services. If no movement is sensed for 60 seconds after the alert, the new Apple Watch will automatically call emergency services and send a message along with location to emergency contacts. Such features are likely to broaden the appeal of the Apple Watch among an older demographic, and more importantly have the potential to save lives.

Nicholas Hall will visit the stunning city of Vienna on 2-4 April 2019 to lead our 30th European CHC Conference & Action Workshop! Focusing on the central theme of Keeping Up with the Digital Consumer, this meeting will also feature a workshop from The CHC Training Academy, enabling you to Embrace Digital Transformation. To find out more about this pivotal meeting, early bird booking rates, and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Elizabeth.Bernos@nicholashall.com

 

Competition rises in sleep devices category

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Now available to buy in the US and selected European markets via the Nokia Health store, the new Nokia Sleep device is a sensor pad that can be placed under the mattress to monitor sleep patterns, track heart rate and detect snoring. 

It also syncs up to Nokia’s Health Mate app and provides smart home control via IFTTT (if this then that) integration, which allows for automatic thermostat regulation and light adjustment. The app also allows the user to view their Sleep Score to get an insight into what makes a good night’s sleep and how to improve night after night.

Packaged as a sensor pad with USB charger, Nokia Sleep retails at $99.95 (USA), €99.95 (Europe) and £99.95 (UK), and the brand website indicates that there are plans to roll out the product in key Asia-Pacific markets like China and Japan.

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Facing stiff competition in the smartphone market from Apple, Google and Chinese manufacturers, Nokia – the former king of mobile phones – is looking to further diversify its business.

Nokia Sleep was due to launch earlier this year, but news of a strategic review of Nokia’s Digital Health business in February 2018 put the rollout in doubt. Nokia will be monitoring closely how this new product fares against established competitor Beddit, which was acquired by Apple in 2017.

Whether you want to find out more about the latest innovations, benchmark the competition or simply keep abreast of new launches, Nicholas Hall’s extensive OTC New Products Tracker is an essential competitive intelligence tool that you simply must trial. Subscribers can also benefit from a newsletter highlighting the key product innovations affecting the industry. Find out more or set up your free trial today by contacting david.redford@NicholasHall.com

Hollywog unveils smartphone-controlled pain device

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As revealed by our recently published MAT Q2 2017 info, global sales of topical analgesics (+8.2%) fast outpaced systemic analgesics (+3.8%), owing to higher levels of product innovation. This trend was particularly noticeable in North America, where sales of topical analgesics were up 16.2% in the year to end-June 2017.

One specific area of dynamism has been topical pain relief devices, specifically TENS machines, with a variety of smaller marketers and established OTC players launching such products in recent years. For example, Bayer launched TENS device Aleve Direct Therapy in summer 2016.

The innovation stakes have now been raised higher with the launch of a smartphone-controlled TENS device by US marketer Hollywog. The WiTouch Pro Bluetooth TENS Therapy device is paired with the WiTouch Pro App to provide stimulation pain therapy to the lower back.

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According to Chuck Thomas, CEO of Hollywog: “This launch signals an important innovation for Hollywog, where our new patented pain management solution, the WiTouch Pro, offers a drug-free digitally-enabled alternative to block pain and keep moving. People are looking for a discrete solution that is personalised for their pain and with this launch we deliver on that need.”

This trend is likely to accelerate, with marketers like Purdue Pharma already looking at how to deliver pain therapy via smartwatches too.

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.

The future of diagnostic wearables?

 

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The University of Tokyo has recently started to develop a new generation of wearable diagnostics. The hypoallergenic electronic sensor wearables are designed to monitor health indicators without being invasive or causing any discomfort.

The electronic sensors are made up of breathable nanoscale meshes that attach directly to the skin to produce accurate and precise readings of heart rate and other health indicators. Japanese scientists believe the new wearables can be worn for up to one week, without causing any irritation. However, if devices are worn over a longer period it is thought they may be deemed unsafe, as they prevent breathability and block airflow causing irritation and inflammation.

“We learned that devices that can be worn for a week or longer for continuous monitoring were needed for practical use in medical and sports applications” says Professor Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Engineering.

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The device can be applied by spraying a small amount of water, which dissolves PVA nanofibres to allow it to stick to the skin. It is designed to fit curvilinear surfaces of skin making it ideal to apply to sweat pores and index fingers.

Scientists are hopeful this is the beginning of a new chapter for wearable diagnostics and hope that it will be possible to measure health indicators without causing stress or discomfort to the user. The device is thought to not only be the future for medical diagnostics, but also have applications for sports technology.