GSK and Alcon get FDA approval for US switches

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Following on from our recent blog highlighting the need for a new wave of Rx-to-OTC switches to kickstart growth in the global consumer healthcare industry, this week we cover the welcome news that the FDA has approved three drugs for non-prescription use. As well as GSK’s topical analgesic gel Voltaren Arthritis Pain (diclofenac sodium 1%), two Alcon eye care allergy products (available as solution / drops) have also switched to OTC status – Pataday Twice Daily Relief (olopatadine 0.1%) and Pataday Once Daily Relief (olopatadine 0.2%).

Karen Mahoney, Acting Deputy Director of the Office of Nonprescription Drugs at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation & Research, said: “Approval of a wider range of non-prescription drugs has the potential to improve public health by increasing the types of drugs consumers can access and use that would otherwise only be available by prescription. This includes providing the millions of people that suffer with joint pain from arthritis daily over-the-counter access to another non-opioid treatment option.”

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Olopatadine is available OTC in a handful of other countries worldwide, but this is the first time it’s been switched in a major market. One of the countries where the ingredient can be purchased without a prescription is Singapore, which approved the Rx-to-OTC switch of olopatadine 0.1% and 0.2% in December 2016. More recently, Poland’s Office for Registration of Medicinal Products, Medical Devices & Biocidal Products (URPL) approved the Rx-to-OTC switch of Polfa Warszawa’s Starelltec Alergia eye drops (olopatadine 1mg / ml; 5ml bottle) in July 2019 and Adamed’s Oftahist eye drops (olopatadine 1mg / ml; 5ml bottle) in November 2019.

Voltaren currently ranks fifth among the world’s leading consumer healthcare brands, according to CHC DASHBOARD, and this switch could see it move up the rankings and even move ahead of its new GSK stablemate Advil into the No.3 position globally within the next few years. While the US switch of Voltaren has long been mooted, the news is all the more welcome at a time when the world’s No.1 CHC market is in desperate need of an injection of growth, and US arthritis sufferers are also in need of a wider pool of OTC non-opioid treatment options.

For the full story, be sure to read tomorrow’s edition of CHC.NewDirections, a weekly e-newsletter sent out every Tuesday. CHC.NewDirections focuses on innovation, science and regulation, and coverage spans Rx-to-OTC switch, CBD, relevant medical research, probiotics, medical devices, digital health / AI, e-cigarettes and much more! For more information, or to arrange a free trial, please contact Melissa.Lee@NicholasHall.com

Rx-to-OTC switch outlook for 2020

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One of the factors contributing to lower global consumer healthcare growth in recent years has been a falling-off in Rx-to-OTC switch activity in key markets like Japan and the USA. Looking ahead, however, there are reasons to be positive. In December 2019, Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson cited the company’s “plans to accelerate the over-the-counter switches for Cialis and Tamiflu” in order to fulfil its ambition of growing faster than the CHC market over the mid-term. In light of the current coronavirus epidemic, the benefits of wider OTC access to flu remedies is all the more evident.

Sexual health is another category with huge Rx-to-OTC switch potential, notably erectile dysfunction medicines and daily oral contraceptives. Though the switch of Cialis (tadalafil) has been stuck at the FDA for several years now since its submission, sildenafil (Viagra) is enjoying ever wider OTC availability, especially in Europe. After switching in Poland in 2016, sildenafil was launched as Viagra Connect (Pfizer) in the UK in 2018 and will be launched OTC as Viagra Reseptfri in Norwegian pharmacies in early 2020.

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There is also renewed interest in OTC triptans for migraine. A handful of switches took place in the mid-2000s but were held back by OTC purchase limits (a 2-tablet emergency pack). Over the past year, various countries have again began discussing triptan switches including Australia, Ireland and Germany (which is expected to expand the number of triptan molecules in the OTC sector), though major expansion of the segment is unlikely without larger pack sizes.

All that said, reverse-switch remains a threat and one OTC ingredient of ongoing concern is codeine. In late 2019, New Zealand’s Medicines Classification Committee, following Australia’s lead, recommended that all codeine-containing medicines should be reverse-switched from OTC to Rx. In January 2020, citing “widespread concern about the abuse of codeine-containing preparations nationally and globally”, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority said it is reviewing the scheduling status of codeine and codeine-containing medicines which are available without a prescription.

CHC.NewDirections is an e-newsletter sent every Tuesday, with a focus on innovation, science and regulationCoverage spans Rx-to-OTC switch, CBD, relevant medical research, probiotics, medical devices and new delivery formats, digital health / AI, e-cigarettes and much more! For more information, or to arrange a free trial, please contact Melissa.Lee@NicholasHall.com

GSK and Sanofi seek to stand alone

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Structural reorganisation is on the agenda of two of the world’s leading CHC marketers in 2020. GSK’s consumer health tie-up with Pfizer in August 2019 was last year’s major M&A development and now the company’s next ambition is to list the new CHC business on the London Stock Exchange. As for Sanofi, the company unveiled a new strategy just before Christmas, including making Sanofi Consumer Healthcare a standalone business. In the meantime, both companies continue to trim their CHC portfolios.

In December 2019, Pfizer agreed to divest its topical pain management business, ThermaCare, to Italian-based Angelini for an undisclosed sum, reports apotheke.adhoc.de. In July 2019, the European Commission approved the consumer healthcare merger of GSK and Pfizer, conditional upon the global divestment of ThermaCare. The agreement follows Angelini’s acquisition of BoxaGrippal systemic cold & flu remedy and the Heumann herbal medicinal tea range from Sanofi in August 2019.

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Meanwhile, it was announced this month that BI is to sell Buscopan antispasmodic and Buscofem menstrual pain analgesic to Hypera Pharma in Brazil for Rs1.3bn (US$329mn). The deal, which is subject to approval by Administrative Council for Economic Defence (CADE), is in line with Hypera’s strategy of strengthening its portfolio with “established brands with high growth potential”. Under the terms of its 2017 business swap with BI, Sanofi has acquisition preference for the brands and could still pose a counteroffer. However, industry sources suggest that the company is unlikely to exercise this right.

In December 2019, Sanofi unveiled a new strategy to drive innovation and growth, focusing on three core global business units: Specialty Care, Vaccines and General Medicines. Consumer Healthcare will be a standalone business unit with integrated R&D and manufacturing functions. CEO Paul Hudson explained: “Our objective for the CH business is to unlock value and entrepreneurial energy by growing faster than the market over the mid-term. We believe the new standalone structure, coupled with plans to accelerate the OTC switches for Cialis and Tamiflu, will position the business well to accomplish this ambition.” Hudson added that the Rx erectile dysfunction treatment and flu remedy are expected to switch by 2026, adding around US$1bn to Sanofi’s top line.

Are you looking to make a strategic or bolt-on acquisition? If so, our Consultancy team would be happy to have a confidential discussion with you. Our specialist team can negotiate the successful acquisition of companies and brands, asset swaps, fostering and financing. We work with a number of strategic and financial partners to evaluate potential opportunities – for buyers and sellers – in the M&A, licensing and fundraising space. To find out more, please contact ekaterina.panteleeva@NicholasHall.com.

CHC trends in 2020

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In Nicholas Hall’s recent signature New Paradigms report, there were 15 Infinity Zones identified as offering substantial growth opportunities for the consumer healthcare market over the next decade, against a backdrop of uncertainty in the industry caused by the recent wave of mega-mergers. These include the development of new CHC products for diabetes and food intolerance, as well as a further uptick in activity for probiotics, MedTech and e-Commerce. In this week’s blog, we look at three trends that may boost the consumer healthcare market in 2020.

CBD and beyond

2019 was the year of CBD, as evidenced by our CHC New Products Tracker service, which logged over 300 new CBD products in the US market alone last year. A recent article in US pharmacy trade publication, Drug Store News, suggests that CBD is just the tip of the cannabinoid iceberg, with various other cannabinoids set to take off over the coming year. These include cannabigerol (CBG), which is said to produce a stimulant effect, cannabinol (CBN), claimed to show benefits as a sleep aid, and cannabichromene (CBC), claimed to be an effective pain reliever.

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Veganism on the rise

A UK-based campaign that has received a lot of celebrity endorsements, Veganuary, is encouraging people to try veganism in the month of January. One of the benefits of the rise in veganism for VMS marketers is increased awareness of the nutrients we require, many of which can be lacking in a vegan diet. For instance, several leading proponents of veganism like The Vegan Society recommend taking vitamin B12 supplements while adopting a vegan diet. Our CHC New Products Tracker service has also recorded a strong rise in vegan-friendly supplements in the past two years, a trend that looks set to accelerate in 2020.

Uptick in switch activity?

One of the trends responsible for the slowdown in global CHC market growth these past 3-4 years is the drop-off in Rx-to-OTC switch activity, especially in the world’s No.1 market, USA. There are signs this is about to change – for example, Viagra is due to lose its final patents in the USA in 2020. In Japan, the world’s No.3 CHC market, there has been a similar falling off in switch activity, with just two ingredients approved for reclassification in 2018 and 2019. However, 2019 saw the first ingredient to be switched under a new system set up by Japan’s drugs agency, MHLW, which has nominated over 30 ingredients as eligible for switch. With the Tokyo Olympics also on the horizon in summer 2020, this year could see a revival in Japan’s sluggish CHC market.

With options available for complete access to all 20 markets covered by CHC New Products Tracker, or a subscription for selected categories or countries, contact waisan.lee-gabell@NicholasHall.com today to find out more or set up a free trial!

France clamps down on OTC painkillers

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First came a public consultation launched by French medicines agency, ANSM, in August 2018 on how to increase consumer awareness of the risks of paracetamol misuse or overdose. Then followed the decision in July 2019 that, within 9 months, all paracetamol-based medicines must carry a prominent warning on packaging, to inform consumers about risks associated with paracetamol overdose, particularly hepatotoxicity. Paracetamol is the most commonly prescribed and used medicine in France, and the change affects more than 200 medicines.

Now, the ANSM has decided that, to reinforce the advisory role of the pharmacist and guarantee safe use of medicines containing paracetamol, ibuprofen and / or aspirin (in particular to avoid the risk of overdose), such products should be removed from the OTC self-selection list from January 2020 and kept behind the counter in pharmacies. ANSM has launched a consultation period with marketers, who have one month to comment.

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According to our estimates, the decision (if implemented) could affect around 90 SKUs on the French market. This includes the trio of leading paracetamol-based brands – Doliprane, Dafalgan and Efferalgan – as well as the top OTC ibuprofen-based (Nurofen, Advil) and aspirin-based (Aspirine Upsa) analgesics. Various OTC generics from the likes of Biogaran, Sandoz and Mylan, as well as systemic cold & flu remedies (Fervex, HumexLib) and topical analgesics, could also be affected.

The true effect that this decision could have on sales of OTC systemic analgesics remains to be seen, but it would clearly not be welcome news for marketers active in a category that remains in persistent decline, in part because of another regulatory decision (reverse-switch of codeine in July 2017). Leading brands such as Doliprane (Sanofi) and Efferalgan (formerly BMS, now Taisho) are available in both semi-ethical (reimbursed) and pure OTC versions, the latter often backed by TV ads, and it’s these latter SKUs which marketers have invested in over recent years that are most at risk.

Rapid regulatory change will be one of the themes at Nicholas Hall’s upcoming OTC.NewDirections Executive ConferenceTaking place in London on 14 November, the meeting will ultimately focus on the latest CHC Innovations and Technologies, with presentations from RB, Mundipharma, J&J and many more experts from CHC and beyond. To book your place or find out more, please contact jennifer.odonnell@NicholasHall.com without delay.

Lifestyle OTCs still the best hope for OTC switch revival

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2019 has been a slow year for Rx-to-OTC switch news, with activity dropping off markedly in the key US market in recent years, and Asia-Pacific (especially China, Japan and Indonesia) and Europe (Poland especially) the main source of developments. In this context, it was welcome news last week that Norway will become the second European market for OTC Viagra, after the Norwegian Medicines Agency approved the OTC sale of Viagra Reseptfri (Pfizer, sildenafil 50mg) erectile dysfunction treatment to men aged 18+ years, with this to be accompanied by pharmacist advice.

Pfizer plans to launch Viagra Reseptfri in pharmacies in early 2020, while Rx Viagra will remain available. The medicines agency recommends that men have a check-up with their doctor within six months of purchase so that any potential underlying conditions can be investigated. Viagra Reseptfri will be the first medicine available in Norway under the country’s new category of non-prescription medicine with guidance, and the Rx-to-OTC switch follows similar measures elsewhere in Europe. In Poland, sildenafil 25mg is available OTC from a number of domestic players, with initial launch from Adamed in May 2016, while Viagra Connect was launched in the UK in March 2018.

Of the 20 key markets covered by OTC New Products Tracker every month since the start of 2013, Poland has been the most active in terms of Rx-to-OTC switch activity, with 54 products reclassified to non-prescription status. A liberal switch environment has helped bring about a raft of Rx-to-OTC switches since 2014, including Europe’s first OTC erectile dysfunction brand and Poland’s first OTC systemic cold sore treatment.

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Despite some notable failures (such as urinary product Flomax Relief), so-called “lifestyle” drugs remain the primary source of switch activity, helping to extend the reach of the OTC market into new categories such as contraception, erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. A key switch development in 2019 was the downscheduling in Japan of Taisho’s hyperlipidaemia treatment Epadel T (ethyl eicosapentaenoate) to Class I OTC, where sales are permitted in pharmacies (and online) after professional consultation. Downscheduling may have come just in the nick of time – sales data suggest Epadel T had failed to make any noticeable impact on the OTC market in its almost six years as an Instruction-Required Drug.

There also remains hope that Sanofi may one day market Eli Lilly’s erectile dysfunction treatment Cialis as an OTC medicine (it owns the rights to market Cialis OTC in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia), but is switch application has been stuck at the FDA a full five years since its submission. In July 2019, Sanofi also signed a deal with Roche for the exclusive OTC rights to Tamiflu (oseltamivir 75mg capsules, Genentech / Roche Group) for flu prevention and treatment in the USA. Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi will be responsible for leading negotiations with the US FDA for the OTC switch and subsequent exclusive marketing, scientific engagement and distribution of Tamiflu OTC in the USA. Let’s hope for the sake of OTC growth that its negotiations go smoothly.

Clear your diary for Nicholas Hall’s 31st European Conference, which will be held in Athens on 28-30 April 2020, on the theme of Advancing in CHC: The Must-Dos and  Reasons Behind Them. To register your interest in this event, or for more information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact jennifer.odonnell@NicholasHall.com.

Tamiflu to switch to OTC in USA?

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With 2018 a barren year for Rx-to-OTC switch, it is welcome news that Sanofi has signed a strategic deal with Roche for the exclusive OTC rights to Tamiflu (oseltamivir 75mg capsules, Genentech / Roche Group) for flu prevention and treatment in the USA. Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi will be responsible for leading negotiations with the US FDA for the OTC switch and subsequent exclusive marketing, scientific engagement and distribution of Tamiflu OTC in the USA. Roche will continue to market Tamiflu in the rest of the world and Sanofi will retain the rights to first negotiations for switch rights in other selected markets. Sanofi’s Executive VP for Consumer Health, Alan Main, noted that: “A successful switch of Tamiflu to OTC would support our global cough and cold strategy by expanding into flu with a sustainable point of difference in the market.”

As Nina Stimson, OTC.NewDirections Consulting Editor, commented: “To some extent this was an unexpected development, but welcome insofar as (if approved), OTC Tamiflu will help expand the boundaries of consumer healthcare. Of course, in certain conditions (such as the swine flu pandemic in 2009-10) Tamiflu has sometimes been available from pharmacists without a prescription; New Zealand was one such country to permit OTC supply on a temporary basis.” 

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Tamiflu’s patent in the USA and some other markets expired in 2016 and, as the chart above indicates, this has led to a steady decline in sales over recent years, with US Tamiflu sales falling by 29% in 2018 to total CHF168mn (US$170mn). Generic competition intensified in the USA in 2017 and continues to grow, while Tamiflu brand sales are now also in decline in Japan and internationally. Roche is now focusing its efforts on Tamiflu’s successor, Xofluza, which was approved by the FDA in late 2018.

If Tamiflu can switch to OTC successfully in the USA, then similar reclassifications will likely follow elsewhere. In 2009, in the midst of the global swine flu pandemic, Australia’s State of Victoria issued a public health emergency order allowing pharmacists to supply Tamiflu (oseltamivir) without a prescription. There has also long been talk of Tamiflu switching to OTC in Europe – in 2008, at the AESGP meeting in Sweden, the EMA’s Executive Director Thomas Lonngren cited Tamiflu as a possible candidate for the EU’s then newly created centralised procedure for Rx-to-OTC switch.

Explore the latest CHC Innovations and Technologies at our OTC.NewDirections Executive Conferencetaking place in London on 14 November 2019. Nicholas Hall and Nina Stimson will be joined by experts from companies including Bayer, Mundipharma and J&J to review key issues impacting our industry and ensure that you are Keeping Consumers in the Spotlight. Book your place before 13 September to take advantage of our early bird booking discount and save GB£100! To find out more, or to reserve your place, please contact Elizabeth.Bernos@NicholasHall.com.