Switch: 2020 Review and 2021 Prospects

According to our CHC New Products Tracker tool, which covers 20 key markets globally, 2020 was a relatively good year for Rx-to-OTC switch activity, not quite at the level of particularly active years like 2018, but above average in terms of switch-related launch developments, and with some notable breakthroughs such as GSK’s switch of Voltaren Arthritis Pain (diclofenac) in the USA and Glenmark’s Momate Rhino Advance Nasal Spray (mometasone + azelastine) switch in Russia.

Thanks to the Rx-to-OTC reclassification of Voltaren Arthritis Pain, as well as eye allergy itch relief range Pataday (Alcon), the US market led the way in terms of switch developments in 2020, along with Poland, Germany and China. As for category switch trends, looking at Tracker data for the past 8 years (2013 to 2020), allergy remedies has been by far the most active OTC subcategory in producing new products following switch activity, with double the amount of NPD activity as the next nearest subcategory, cough remedies.

Looking ahead to 2021, one of the first switch developments this year will again be an allergy remedy. The UK’s Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency granted GSL status to Sanofi’s Allevia tablets for seasonal allergic rhinitis (fexofenadine 120mg; 12+ years; 1 tablet per day) in late December 2020. Once Allevia and other OTC fexofenadine products are launched, they will enjoy mass market distribution from the outset (it is more common in the UK for switched ingredients to be granted pharmacy-only OTC status). This is the second Rx-to-GSL UK allergy remedy switch in as many months, following approval for J&J’s Rhinocort Aqua budesonide 64mcg nasal spray in November 2020 (to be marketed as Benacort Hayfever Relief).

In addition, Poland remains at the forefront of global switch activity, with the country’s medicines agency (URPL) recently approving the Rx-to-OTC switch of Famotydyna Ranigast film-coated tablets (Polpharma; famotidine 20mg). Claimed to relieve indigestion, heartburn and hyperacidity for up to 12 hours, this is the first famotidine option available OTC in Poland. Meanwhile, Australia’s TGA is seeking comments until 27th January 2021 on proposed amendments to the Poisons Standard, which will be discussed at the March 2021 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling, including adding the following pharmacist-only medicines to Appendix H to permit consumer advertising: prochlorperazine and metoclopramide for the treatment of nausea associated with migraine; and chloramphenicol for ophthalmic use.

We are delighted to announce that our annual European e-Conference 2021 will take place online on 28 & 29 April! With options for individual and corporate site or global access, take the chance to keep up with what’s happening in consumer healthcare today and contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com

OTC Innovation Report 2018

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Lamenting the fact that Scott Gottlieb is stepping down as FDA Commissioner, Nicholas Hall commented in Friday’s OTC.Newsflash that: “Although producing few tangible results so far, FDA under Gottlieb has displayed a greater openness to finding new switch models at a lower cost and with shorter lead times, including the use of new technologies.” Nicholas Hall also said that “government support is vital to our industry” and that “more liberal regulations are at the heart of a successful self-care sector”.

A drop-off in switch activity over the past year is part of the explanation for lower levels of high-quality OTC innovation. In 2018, OTC New Products Tracker awarded just six products with 4 stars – eye care brands Lumify (USA) and Zabak Eye Drops (Poland), antacid Reza Band (USA) and antispasmodic Scopolan Compositum (Poland), plus Viagra Connect (UK) and allergy remedy Talerc (Brazil). Compared to previous years, this marked a falling-off in terms of 4-star innovations.

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The number of total OTC innovations (3,747) in 2018 was roughly in line with the previous year, and still much higher compared to 2014, 2015 and 2016. However, the number of 2* (528), 3* (94) and 4* (6) innovations was much lower, while the number of 1* innovations (3,119) was at an all-time high.

VMS continues to be a major source of innovation, with three of the Top 5 subcategories in 2018 – probiotics, multivitamins and hair & beauty supplements. Derma is another key source of innovation, with three of the Top 10 – acne remedies, eczema & psoriasis and lip care. The three other innovative subcategories which complete the Top 10 are sedatives & sleep aids, topical analgesics and sore throat.

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Please contact us for the full report. You can also review 17,000+ new launches and innovations with OTC New Products Tracker, the ultimate competitive intelligence tool! Products are given a star rating, with “me too” items ranked 1*; launches / line extensions in a new category / adjacency 2*; major launches / line extensions with strong new benefits / positioning 3*, and 1st Rx-to-OTC switches in a category, creation of a new OTC class or other major leaps in innovation 4*. 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 requirements, now is the ideal time to set up your free trial. For a demo or more information, contact waisan.lee-gabell@NicholasHall.com.

OTCs in Action: OTC for ED in Poland

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This week, OTCs are in Action in Poland, where Adamed is launching MaxOn Active (sildenafil 25mg, the active ingredient in Pfizer’s Viagra), the second market for legitimate OTC access to erectile dysfunction drugs. The first de facto OTC market for the ED category was New Zealand, where Douglas Pharma switched Silvasta in October 2014.

Of course, Rx drugs and dietary supplements for ED can be quite easily available “under-the-counter” (pharmacists dispensing without a prescription) or online in many markets around the world. However, some of these dietary supplement products can have serious and even deadly side-effects, and many feature unsafe ingredients from unscrupulous marketers looking to meet the product demand. Additionally, in many Emerging Markets, pharmacists are often the only healthcare providers accessible to consumers, so the “under-the-counter” trade is widely accepted.

In Poland, where MaxOn is available only in pharmacies, men are asked to take a test to determine safe use of the OTC when they purchase a 2-count pack for about $10.00. It’s estimated that about 1.7mn men in Poland experience ED, so OTC competitors will surely be keeping an eye on this first European OTC ED market.

It’s intriguing that the test to ensure consumer compliance is a like a first KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid). The test asks consumers several questions regarding their use of drugs and about previous diseases. A man will have three possible answers to each question: yes, I don’t know or no. If the question is marked “yes” or “don’t know”, the patient should consult the doctor about use of the medicine.

Click the link below to see how men will self-test for MaxOn Active: