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.
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.
Recovery in US OTC analgesics typifies the trend in the wider global market
Sales of OTC analgesics in the US continued their recovery in the year to Q1 2015, with healthy growth of +4.6%. Tylenol (McNeil / J&J) was one of the fastest-growing brands of the past year, boasting +27% growth (adult, children and PM analgesics, MAT Q1 2015) as family-themed advertising campaigns helped reinforce the brand’s return to US retail stores, after manufacturing problems at McNeil’s Fort Washington plant. Stablemate Motrin is also performing well, making real gains in the paediatric niche. Meanwhile, new launch activity, such as Aleve PM (Bayer) and Excedrin Tension Headache (GSK), further boosted systemics. Sales of topicals also thrived, as brands like Salonpas (Hisamitsu) innovated in the form of jet sprays and gel patches, while several key brands, including No.1 Icy Hot (Chattem / Sanofi), have been extended with TENS devices since they were approved for OTC use in 2013.
And the global picture for analgesics is no less rosy. Q1 2015 saw sales advance at a faster pace (+6.0%) than the overall OTC market (+5.3%) globally. Below are just a handful of trends and developments from around the world helping to bolster growth:
- In Japan competition in the loxoprofen segment of systemic analgesics is increasing, with Lion launching Excedrin LOX in early 2015 and Daiichi Sankyo retaliating soon after with Loxonin S Plus
- Brazil’s topical analgesics benefited from the introduction of Dorflex Icy Hot (Sanofi) in 2014 and increased A+P support for Balsamo Bengue (EMS)
- In India increasing demand for brands targeting specific types of pain, namely headache and body pain, has opened up the topicals category to different delivery formats such as gels and sprays, in addition to the traditional balms
- Poland has seen a rise in the popularity of speciality products for the likes of migraine and joint / back pain, which carry a premium price, while there is also a trend towards larger “value packs”
To discover more about what’s driving growth (or holding it back) in the Global OTC Analgesics market, including in-depth coverage of the 14 leading countries, take advantage of generous pre-publication discounts on our upcoming report.
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