OTCs in Action Episode 34: One small step for French OTCs, a giant step for Greek

OTCinActionheaderThis week, OTCs are in Action in France, where 21 medicines have jumped over the pharmacy counter to retail shelves, where they can be selected by consumers. Famenpax homeopathic antinauseant, AsproFlash aspirin, Flustimex acetaminophen / chlorphenamine and MycoHydralin clotrimazole VYI treatments were among the brands leaping to freedom.

Earlier this year, regulators liberated Maalox Reflux (aluminum / magnesium hydroxide), as well as nicotine gums and lozenges from Nicorette and Nicotinell. To see the full list, click here: French OTCs by self-selection.

Although the move to front-of-store is a significant win for consumers, OTC sales are still restricted to pharmacies in France. This provides an interesting contrast to the recent bailout agreement which stipulates that Greece, with a similar distribution model, should go a leap further to liberate OTC from pharmacies and permit mass market sale of OTCs as part of the international economic rescue package.

For more international news, see OTC.Newsflash, published weekly by Nicholas Hall & Company every Friday.

OTCs in Action Episode 28: DNA-based diets a beacon of future OTCs



UK: Overweight patients in Essex are being offered the opportunity to receive DNA-based tailored diets and exercise regimes under a pilot scheme offered by the National Health Service. The “Extraordinary People” project, run by the NHS’ Enable East, is a free programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund. To date, 56 participants have completed DNA tests provided by DNAFit, which will give personalised reports on their key genes related to diet, nutrition, physical health and fitness. Based on the findings, participants will be allocated to one of 5 diet plans and tailored exercise regimes. If successful, the programme could be rolled out across the UK.

(from Nicholas Hall’s OTC.NEWSFLASH, May 23, 2015)

OTCs are in Action in the UK, where the NHS is attempting to validate DNA-based, individualised weight loss programmes. The connections between DNA make-up and body weight are becoming increasingly apparent as the human genome is unravelled. Earlier this year, US National Institutes of Health Director, Dr Francis Collins, blogged about a study of the genomes of more than half a million people to look for genes and regions of chromosomes that play a role in body fat distribution and obesity. They turned up over 140 genetic locations that contribute to these traits, and further analyses suggest the possibility that the programming behind how fat cells form may influence their distribution.

In fact, OTC tests for DNA weight loss programmes are available online as OTCs and were a hot topic in the media several years ago, but have not become mainstream. While a positive result of the NHS study will offer credibility for this OTC category, it’s still early stages. In an interesting twist, DNAFit subscribers can become members of 23andMe, the pioneer in OTC genetic testing, which made its first appearance in OTCs in Action Episode 22: Genetic disorders vs Alcoholic Blushes.

In theory, the personalised weight loss programmes of today could be successful, but OTC marketers know that the human / actual use factor in compliance can offset the best science. The significance is the future prospects – perhaps some day, prospective dieters will review a 23andMe report before choosing between weight loss OTCs such as orlistat-based Alli (GSK) or raspberry ketone dietary supplements.

OTC in Action Episode 23: Is there a pharmacist in the house?


Last week, sister publication OTC.Newsflash reported that the College of General Practitioners and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England have proposed that pharmacists work in general practitioner “surgeries” (offices) to improve safety, patient care and waiting times for GP appointments. It brought to mind helping to care for my father-in-law, who had multiple health conditions that required a broad range of specialists prescribing Rx and OTC medications. Joe had four daughters, temporary visiting nurses and therapists, so coordinating his medication was a real challenge, in part because there were so many “helpers”.

The English proposal is meant to improve patient care by softening demands on a stable population of GPs treating an increasing number of patients. Apparently, there is an over-supply of pharmacists who train for five years — one year less than a doctor, one year more than a nurse.

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the RCGP, explained: “This isn’t about having a pharmacy premises within a surgery, but about making full use of the pharmacist’s clinical skills to help patients and the over-stretched GP workforce. Patients with long-term conditions such as asthma or diabetes and with complex medicine needs would particularly benefit from having a pharmacist to help navigate the conflicting and confusing information they sometimes receive about their treatment as they move between hospital and community care. Practice teams can also benefit from a pharmacist’s advice to help avoid medicine waste, improve the management of medicines and rationalise costs.”

OTCs will be in Action as pharmacists bring them into the office “surgery” setting by recommending effective, safe and affordable medicines to patents, while ensuring safe use of multiple treatments.

OTCs in Action Episode 12: Science uncovering life-extending benefits


OTC.Newsflash reported that the global community is living longer – by about 6 years to 71.5 in 2013 compared to 1990’s life expectancy. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, published in The Lancet, indicates that improvements in healthcare have prompted dramatic shifts, including a major reduction in child mortality from diarrhoea and lower respiratory infections. However, death rates from many types of cancer, as well as lifestyle-influenced, chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, have increased.

Can OTCs be part of the solution? In the past year, Nicholas Hall’s OTC.NewDirections has kept us up to date on the OTC scientific developments that are a significant factor in the preventive and therapeutic advances that are extending lives. In the most recent issue, we read about how vitamin E can protect older mice from pneumonia, creatine may improve blood pressure, selenium might lower the risk of colorectal cancer and NSAIDs might reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Because of their safety profile, accessibility and affordability, the importance of OTCs is often understated – they don’t often grab the headlines in mass media or corporate financial reports. But to families around the globe, OTCs are in Action improving lives everyday by treating acute illnesses, and increasingly, preventing chronic disease.

Best wishes for a healthy New Year!

OTC.Newsflash and OTC.NewDirections e-mail bulletins are published weekly by Nicholas Hall & Company.





Nicholas Hall Writes from London

NHPostcard.2014Nicholas Hall’s Postcard from London: I normally don’t send postcards from London, which is a short hop from my island paradise of Guernsey. But yesterday’s battle with floods and gale force winds was as exhausting as crossing the globe, which I will start again tomorrow. Next stops: Singapore, Shanghai, Phoenix, New York, New Jersey.

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