Medical cannabis diversification

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In terms of number of innovations by OTC subcategory, medical cannabis moved into the Top 20 in 2018 according to OTC New Products Tracker, with 86 new product developments. Europe and North America have been driving the trend in terms of high-quality innovations, from Swiss Cannabis Gum in Switzerland to PharmaCare’s Naturopathica lozenges in the UK and Foria Basics Suppositories in the USA.

As well as an ever-growing diversity of delivery formats, another characteristic of the emerging medical cannabis category is the increasing width of positioning. This is exemplified by a new range of hemp-based hair & body care products launched by HempMeds. Distributed by Naturewell in the US market, the personal care line is composed of 4 products – shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion – all formulated with CBD oil (derived from hemp) and natural extracts such as argan and goji berry (shampoo), argan and green tea (conditioner), peppermint and liquorice root (body wash) and jojoba oil and almond oil (body lotion). 

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Available now to buy online, this new range was just recently showcased at the Natural Products Expo West in California, where HempMeds President Todd Morrow said that design and development of the line was “focused on consideration of women in particular”.

According to a recent report by Eaze, the number of US women buying cannabis products almost doubled in 2018, up 92%, and women now make up 38% of all US cannabis consumers. This report shows that not only is the medical cannabis product mix diversifying in terms of format and positioning, but the consumer base is also widening too, with more women and older people now entering the market.

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 specifications, now is the perfect time to set up your free trial. For a demo or more information, contact waisan.lee-gabell@NicholasHall.com.

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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.

High on innovation, but CBD faces regulatory uncertainty

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Various Nicholas Hall publications, notably OTC.NewDirections and OTC New Products Tracker, provide in-depth coverage of medical cannabis developments owing to the category’s huge potential to boost future consumer healthcare growth. High levels of innovation, both in terms of positioning and delivery format (like those detailed below), continue to characterise the category, but recent regulatory moves by the WHO and EU mean that the status of CBD supplements remains far from settled.

Looking at delivery format innovations, recent developments include a new mouth spray in the UK (Natures Aid CBD Oil Spray from Thornton & Ross / Stada) and a new nasal spray in the USA (Rhinodol from New Leaf Pharmaceuticals). The latter claims to deliver the highest concentrations of medical CBD at an affordable cost (US$69.99). According to New Leaf, the oral administrative route provides the lowest bioavailability, owing to the digestive processes that occur when CBDs enter the blood stream (a significant amount of CBD goes into the liver and is broken down into unusable compounds).

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Screenshot from New Leaf Pharma’s website

Meanwhile, attitudes to CBD and cannabis are changing at a regulatory level. According to news sources, a leaked World Health Organisation internal letter to the UN Secretary-General recommends that whole-flower cannabis and its resins should be removed from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), the most restrictive international drug category. Cannabis scheduling was discussed at the Expert Committee of Drug Dependence 41st meeting in November 2018 but the discussions have not been published. The letter also clarified that cannabidiol should not be scheduled within the International Drug Control Conventions, while tinctures and extracts of cannabis should also be deleted from Schedule I. WHO recommendations will be voted on by the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which could take place in March 2019.

In Europe, marketers of CBD supplements are facing new regulatory hurdles. The European Food Safety Authority has amended the entry for cannabinoids on the Novel Foods register, which now states: “Extracts of Cannabis sativa L. and derived products containing cannabinoids are considered novel foods as a history of consumption has not been demonstrated. This applies to both the extracts themselves and any products to which they are added as an ingredient (such as hemp seed oil). This also applies to extracts of other plants containing cannabinoids. Synthetically-obtained cannabinoids are considered as novel.”

This means that CBD supplements are now classed as a novel food in Europe and manufacturers face the prospect of having to take their products off the market while they apply for approved novel food status, which can take around a year. In December 2018, Austria banned the sale of CBD extracts, stating that the ingredients fall under the EU’s Novel Foods regulations and cannot be marketed without authorisation.

Join Nicholas Hall at our upcoming New Jersey meeting, hosted with our partners Everything Health. Based on the theme, Innovate, Digitize, Integrate, the meeting takes place on 26-27 June, with representatives from Perrigo, MarketHub, Google and many others, joining us to discuss and debate topics including:

  • Market Trends and Innovation
  • Key Developments in the Cannabis Market
  • Connected Health
  • Consumer Insights using Artificial Intelligence  

Vaping among middle-aged growing fast

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According to a recent report by Mintel on e-cigarette and smoking control use in the UK, vaping among the middle-aged (45-54 years olds especially) has undergone a sharp rise. While only 13% of 45-54 year olds used e-cigarettes in 2016, this proportion has grown sharply to 20% in 2018, and this age group is also reported as being most likely (71%) to believe that vaping is fashionable.

Young people (18-24 year olds) are still the most prominent vapers; the share of e-cigarette use among this age group grew from 24% in 2016 to 28% in 2018. Although this represents a slower rate of growth compared to their middle-aged counterparts, over half of Brits (57%) still believe that too many young people vape.

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Overall, about 19% of British adults vape, up from 17% in 2016, with men twice as likely to vape as women. Sales of e-cigarettes are reported to be performing well, with the market experiencing strong growth of 12% in 2018, to total £283mn (US$366mn). This is compared to a UK smoking control market declining by 1%, according to the latest OTC DASHBOARD MAT Q3 2018 figures, a trend caused by smokers turning to e-cigarettes rather than traditional NRT when cutting back on tobacco.

In his latest message to the consumer health industry, Nicholas Hall wrote about the importance of true innovation, including the following points:

• Embrace the outer adjacencies of consumer health, of which sexual health, e-cigarettes / vaping and medical cannabis are the most interesting, potentially adding another 20-30% to CHC market sales; BUT, every time I propose these categories to a client, all I hear is a sharp intake of breath, followed by a nervous giggle

• Refocus on organic growth, which means more differentiation of the new products we launch. Our OTC New Products Tracker (see below) has recorded 17,000 launches in the past 6 years, of which 99 appear to be game-changers and another 1,000 have a genuine point of difference. But I’m sorry to say that for many of the other 93%, the marketers would have done better to keep their money in the bank, even at 0.1% interest.

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.

Medical cannabis products legal in UK

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Three hot topics we focus on at OTC DASHBOARD, in our blogs and infographics, are OTC adjacencies, e-commerce and new technology. Medical cannabis falls within the sphere of OTC adjacencies, and here at Nicholas Hall & Company we believe that this category will progressively become part of the consumer healthcare market.

Recent legislative moves show that government attitudes to cannabis use are becoming more and more liberal. Just last week, the UK Home Secretary made the decision to allow the legal prescription of cannabis-derived medicinal products by specialist doctors. The UK’s regulatory agency, MHRA, is now working on a clear definition of what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product.

The UK has also been one of several markets that have seen the launch of innovative cannabidiol (CBD) products, such as CannaQIX (Precision Healthcare / Creso). Launched in April 2018, CannaQIX is formulated with CBD organic hemp extract, as well as vitamins and minerals. Available as lozenges, the product is positioned as a cognitive booster that maintains mental and nervous function, reduces fatigue and releases energy. The product is also available in Switzerland and being rolled out across Europe.

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Other key countries for CBD products include Germany, Israel, Australia and the USA, with 45 products in the latter market already listed in our OTC New Products Tracker archive, in a variety of innovative formats including pens, vaporisers and gummy bears.

Canada is another country becoming more liberal in its approach to cannabis. In June 2018, legislation permitting Canadians to consume cannabis for recreational purposes was finalised, the final step that will pave the way for official legalisation in October 2018. The regulatory package is 390 pages long and provides details about how cannabis may be grown, harvested, processed and sold.

Looking ahead, Europe and North America are likely to be at the forefront of market development. According to a report from Prohibition Partners, the European cannabis market will be worth €115.7bn (US$135bn) by 2028, with the majority of European states expected to pass legislation to legalise medical cannabis programmes and recreational cannabis in that time.

Nicholas Hall’s upcoming OTC.NewDirections Executive Conference will reflect rising interest in the fast-developing cannabis market worldwide with two presentations on this key topic, from Canada and Israel. Being held on 12 September in London, this one-day meeting will explore Where Innovation Meets Regulation. For details of the full agenda or to reserve your place contact lianne.hill@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

Flu Trends: USA, UK seeing 2018 spike

Though it’s difficult to build a comprehensive picture of flu trends across the globe, reports suggest that January 2018 has seen a spike in flu activity in North America and Europe. In its full-year 2017 results, J&J also cited growth for its upper respiratory category as one of the trends underpinning a 3.7% rise (+2.6% organically) for its OTC division in 2017. This included strong Q4 growth for its CCA brands in the Asia-Pacific region, suggesting that cold & flu activity is robust across the northern hemisphere.

According to reports, the US is in the grip of its strongest cough, cold & flu season for almost a decade. In mid-January, Brenda Fitzgerald, Director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, said: “We are currently in the midst of a very active flu season. With much of the country experiencing widespread and intense flu activity … so far this season, influenza A, H3N2, has been the most common form of influenza. These viruses are often linked to more severe illness, especially among children and people age 65 and older. When H3 viruses are predominant, we tend to have a worse flu season with more hospitalizations and more deaths. While our surveillance systems show that nationally the flu season may be peaking now, we know from past experience that it will take many more weeks for flu activity to truly slow down.”

As the chart above shows, the percentage of US patients visiting their doctor with ILI (influenza-like illness) has peaked sharply in late 2017 / early 2018, reaching levels not seen since the 2009-10 flu season. Similarly, in the UK, reports suggest this has been the worst flu season for seven years – since the 2010-11 swine flu epidemic – with doctors visits for suspected flu rising sharply in certain parts of the country (in Wales, they recorded a fourfold increase to 64.9 cases per 100,000).

As we make our way through Q4 2017 results season, we’ll keep a close eye on how this spike in flu activity is reflected in the CCA performance of various OTC marketers, though it may be that we have to wait until the Q1 2018 results come in to see the full effect of this trend.