Medical cannabis round-up

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Medical cannabis is a dynamic and fast-moving market, and of increasing interest to many Pharma and Big Tobacco marketers. In North America and Europe, several countries now allow, or are considering allowing, the medical use of cannabis or cannabinoids in some form, while CBD supplements are widely available.

Already in 2019 we’ve also seen new developments in this field in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, with Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, agreeing to the export of medical cannabis. Once the decision is formally approved by the Cabinet, this will allow Israel to participate in the rapidly expanding global cannabis market, and exports may begin in mid-2019. As for Thailand, its National Legislative Assembly has just passed the second and third readings of an amendment to the Narcotics Bill to allow the production, import, export, possession and use of cannabis and kratom products for medical and research purposes.

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One notable recent launch in the USA was Foria Basics Suppositories, a cannabidiol-based product formulated primarily to relieve menstrual cramps and discomfort. It also claims to relieve menopausal symptoms, inflammation and pain. The all-natural formula, which also includes 100% organic fair trade cocoa butter, delivers broad-spectrum CBD 100mg directly to the muscle and vascular tissues of the upper vagina and uterus. What’s unique about Foria Basics Suppositories is not just the delivery format, but also the menstrual pain positioning.

Medical cannabis was one of the hot OTC innovation trends of 2018, and Nicholas Hall’s OTC New Products Tracker now lists over 100 medical cannabis launches in its ever-growing archive. In 2018, we tracked 66 medical cannabis innovations, the majority emanating from the US market, followed by Germany and UK. 

Stay informed about the latest cannabis-related scientific and regulatory developments by subscribing to our sister publication OTC.NewDirections — the reliable source from NHC to keep up with all relevant developments in this fast-developing market worldwide. For more details, or to arrange a trial subscription, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com

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East to power global economy in 2019

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According to the latest research from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), several countries in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa will produce the highest economic growth in 2019, while North America, Europe and even Latin America will lag behind. There are some exceptions to this trend (like Poland and Ireland in Europe, which are forecast to outperform the global economy in 2019) but the general picture shows that the highest GDP growth will be in the east.

Although there are concerns about the economic slowdown in China – see our blog just before Christmas and the recent letter from Apple CEO Tim Cook to investors – the country is expected to remain among the best-performing economies in 2019, with a growth forecast of 6.3%. The EIU revised up slightly its China forecast for 2019, following the agreement reached between the US and China at the G20 to delay planned tariff actions. However, it remains uncertain whether a bilateral trade deal will be reached.

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China’s troubles may actually be providing a boost to neighbouring Asia-Pacific markets, such as Vietnam, which offer an alternative manufacturing location. Also, as we’ve highlighted on the blog previously, several African markets have likewise been boosted by their growing status as manufacturing hubs, notably Kenya. As for India, it is forecast by the EIU to be among the Top 5 fastest-growing economies in 2019, continuing its strong 2018 upturn – according to the latest OTC DASHBOARD data for the MAT Q3 2018 period, India is the fastest-growing OTC market in Asia-Pacific, up 8.8%.

At the other end of the scale, key Latin American markets Venezuela and Argentina are forecast to be among the Top 5 worst-performing economies in 2019, while Mexico and Brazil are also expected to perform below par this year. However, high inflation has helped to boost OTC growth in these markets. As for Europe, several western European markets are forecast to produce low growth, while Japan, Turkey and South Africa are all expected to produce growth in the 0-2% range, with the US performing slightly better.

Join Nicholas Hall and The CHC Training Academy in Vietnam on 28 February. Focusing on the central theme of Winning Together in Consumer Health, this unique workshop will enable you to develop essential skills to succeed in the new era of collaborative partnership approaches between retailer and supplier for strengthening categories together, plus deep insights on key stakeholders. Don’t delay — book your place before 17 January to save with our generous early bird discount! To find out more, please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com

Uncertain economic outlook in 2019

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As well as the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, another cloud on the economic horizon for 2019 is the health of the US retail sector. According to a report over the weekend by the FT, shares in US retailers are set for their biggest quarterly sell-off since the financial crisis. This follows weak economic data in Asia-Pacific, especially China where retail sales hit a 15-year low in November 2018, and Europe, prompting concerns about a global economic slowdown.

Tariffs, and the threat of tariffs, have been one factor. Some US retailers are reportedly now having to offload surplus stock at a heavy discount, after accelerating imports in recent months to avoid planned higher tariffs (which are now on hold), while the fall in industrial output in China is partly linked to US tariffs that have been imposed. Also, concerns have resurfaced among investors about the ability of bricks & mortar retailers to navigate the e-commerce revolution. As a result, shares in various US retailers have fallen sharply, from high-end to mass market chains, like Target (down 23%).

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Amazon shares have also declined this quarter, though the e-commerce giant still looks on course to disrupt pharmaceutical distribution and reimbursement in 2019, a fact that hasn’t eluded many top pharma executives. J&J CEO, Alex Gorsky, in an interview with Fortune, said: “We have conversations at all levels going on with Amazon. I think Jeff (Bezos) and as importantly Amazon is a very innovative organisation, and they see this as an opportunity to make a difference. Just as we are partnering with them today in areas of our consumer products, we’ll look forward to partnering with them in the future in some of these other areas as well.”

Pfizer Chairman & CEO Ian Read also said late last year: “Any system of distribution that can cut costs and get a wide availability of products to patients is something that the whole industry would be interested in.” This disruption to pharma distribution, allied with the current economic uncertainty, looks set to make for a volatile year in 2019. According to Nicholas Hall, the “Big Beasts of Big Pharma are right. Amazon and Alibaba are today the most powerful disruptors of the healthcare industry. Some brand marketers will embrace this change, most will not … until it’s too late.” 

Nicholas Hall’s New Paradigms for CHC 2019: Over the Horizon, our upcoming new Signature Report written by Nicholas, focuses on a range of important issues surrounding the CHC Market, including Innovation, Success Factors, Digital Engagement, Competition and much more. It is an essential read for all players striving to compete in this rapidly evolving marketplace. To find out more or to place your order, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com

MAT Q2 2018: 5 Key Trends & Developments

Our latest Q2 2018 trend reports on the OTC market at global, regional and Top 20 level are now available on the OTC DASHBOARD website. Here we highlight some of the key trends & developments that have emerged in the latest data.

  1. Europe and Asia drive CCA upturn: Improving CCA growth helped the global OTC market report a slight upturn in Q2 (+4.2%). This followed a return to CCA growth in Europe (+2.7%) in Q2 2018, powered by the UK (+5.8%) and Germany (+4.1%), while France (+0.5%) also returned to positive territory. CCA growth in Asia-Pacific (+5.7%) likewise improved in Q2, thanks to a clear upturn for Systemic cold & flu (+4.7%), with key markets like S Korea enjoying high growth (+6.6%) on the back of OTC innovations such as the relaunch of Dong-A’s Pantec Q.
  2. Sanofi reclaims the No.3 spot from J&J: While GSK maintains its clear lead as the global OTC No.1 marketer, a tight three-way race remains in play for the No.2 spot between Bayer, Sanofi and J&J. Bayer is still the global No.2, while Sanofi reclaimed its position as the global No.3 in Q2 2018, moving ahead of J&J. In Sanofi’s Q2 results, the company reported a return to OTC growth in Europe and a continued strong rise in Emerging Markets, especially in Latin America. The company reported a CCA upturn in both regions, offsetting US allergy decline.
  3. US market behind VMS upturn: Higher Q2 growth in North America’s vast supplements market (+4.0%) has been the key trend behind the improving global picture. In Q2, multivitamins (+2.8%) underwent a clear upturn while the trend for probiotics (+6.9%) and immune supplements (+10.4%) also improved. The latter category has been a particularly vibrant source of OTC innovation in recent months; for example, Nestle has launched elderberry immune gummies as part of its mykind Organics line, while post-surgery immunity supplements and those with a digestive health crossover have also been popular.
  4. Where’s the growth potential? 1. Adjacencies: OTC marketers are increasingly looking to build new consumer healthcare adjacencies, either via switch – in the case of erectile dysfunction and Pfizer’s Viagra Connect – or new product innovation, in the case of medical cannabis. Canada recently voted to legalise cannabis, though the future for CBD and THC supplements remains uncertain. We don’t yet include sales of medical cannabis products in OTC DASHBOARD, though we do track developments in this category closely in both our innovation database, OTC New Products Tracker, and regulatory newsletter, OTC.NewDirections.
  5. Where’s the growth potential? 2. New territories: Rest of World countries (mainly Middle East & Africa) enjoyed continued high in Q2 2018, with sales up 6.6% in the 12 months to end-June 2018, to total US$9.2bn. High growth for analgesics (+7.2%) and CCA products (+6.7%) ensured a strong regional rise overall, allied with a dynamic performance in the key regional market of Turkey (+13.3%). RB is one marketer performing well in the region, claiming a spot among the Top 5 OTC marketers in Q2 2018, following dynamic growth of its CCA portfolio, powered by sore throat remedy Strepsils and its strong support via A+P and line extensions.

With M&A activity in the CHC industry increasing rapidly, now may be the right time for your business to explore growth opportunities. Our specialist M&A boutique is working with a number of strategic and financial partners to assess potential opportunities — for buyers and sellers — and is well placed to discuss the current business climate and possible synergies. To find out more, please contact ammar.basit@NicholasHall.com

NRF forecasts strong US holiday season sales

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According to a report this week by the National Retail Federation, US holiday retail sales (in November and December, and excluding automobiles, fuel and restaurants) are forecast to increase 4.3-4.8% this year vs the same period in 2017, to total US$717-721bn. This upturn compares to an average annual increase of 3.9% over the past five years.

In 2017, health and personal care store sales accounted for 17.8% of this total (US$59.3bn), a growing share compared to the year before (17.4% share in 2016, or US$56.9bn). If this trend of growing US retail sales in the holiday period – plus a growing share for healthcare sales – continues as forecast in 2018 then OTC marketers active in the US market can expect a strong finish to the year.

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According to NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz: “Last year’s strong results were thanks to growing wages, stronger employment and higher confidence, complemented by anticipation of tax cuts that led consumers to spend more than expected. With this year’s forecast, we continue to see strong momentum from consumers as they do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy. The combination of increased job creation, improved wages, tamed inflation and an increase in net worth all provide the capacity and the confidence to spend.”

NRF’s holiday forecast is based on an economic model using several indicators including consumer credit, disposable personal income and previous monthly retail sales. The number includes online and other non-store sales.

Explore growth opportunities in the CHC industry with Nicholas Hall’s specialist M&A boutique, which works with a number of strategic and financial partners to assess potential opportunities — for buyers and sellers — and is well placed to discuss the current business climate and possible synergies. To find out more, please contact ammar.basit@NicholasHall.com

Perrigo to revive flagging OTC allergy sales?

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According to the latest MAT Q1 2018 data, global growth of OTC allergy remedies has slowed to just +0.2%, compared with a rate of +3.7% in the year-ago MAT Q1 2017 period, and +10.3% in the MAT Q1 2016 period. A drop-off in Rx-to-OTC switch activity has been a key factor, so last week’s news that Perrigo has signed an agreement with Merck & Co for exclusive rights to market, sell and distribute a non-prescription version of Nasonex (mometasone furoate monohydrate) in the US will be a welcome boost for the category.

Financial terms were not disclosed and the deal is subject to receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals. Nasonex is currently available on prescription only in USA, where it is marketed by Merck & Co. The corticosteroid anti-inflammatory nasal spray is indicated for the treatment of the symptoms of seasonal allergic or perennial allergic rhinitis in people aged 18+ years. In those markets where the product is available OTC, such as Australia, it is marketed by Bayer.

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Perrigo has often been first to launch private label equivalents of recently switched OTC brands – generic versions of Flonase and Zegerid OTC were launched in 2016, while a copy of Nexium 24HR was launched by the company last summer – but this deal marks a new phase for Perrigo into switching brands.

As Perrigo Executive VP & President, Consumer Healthcare Americas, Jeff Needham, commented: “This product in-licence is the first of its kind for Perrigo. As other similar products that have previously switched from prescription to OTC status, we are working diligently to bring this important product to consumers and customers more quickly than the average 5-year OTC switch timeframe. This strategic investment into the OTC category creates an innovative product offering for Perrigo. We expect to execute the Rx-OTC-switch, fully penetrate this market with a branded offering and provide a future store brand alternative.” 

Comment from Ian Crook, Managing Editor, Nicholas Hall’s Reports: Nasonex enjoys dynamic growth in the handful of markets where it has been switched to OTC by Bayer and generated sales of US$23mn in 2017 (+28% CAGR 2013-17). In the brand’s largest market, Australia (where it switched in 2014), award-winning advertising helped it build a strong presence among consumers; it ranked 4th with sales of US$10mn (+5%) in 2017, comfortably the No.1 in the nasal sprays segment. How the brand will fare in the USA — if and when Perrigo successfully navigates the switch process — remains to be seen. Nasal steroid switches in the USA have historically driven high growth among allergy remedies, but later arrivals like Nasonex are unlikely to make as big a splash as previous INS switches.

Perrigo is one of the Top 20 OTC players profiled in the 2018 version of our bestselling OTC YearBook. This essential annual report also gives an extensive, up-to-date overview of the OTC industry across the globe, including reviews of M&A activity, Top 15 markets and major OTC categories, plus much more. For more information or to order your copy, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

 

J&J to buy Zarbee’s

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J&J Consumer has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire natural healthcare products company Zarbee’s Naturals for an undisclosed sum. With a 50% CAGR, the Zarbee’s Naturals business racked up sales of US$68mn in 2017, according to Nicholas Hall’s global OTC sales database DB6, and there is lots of room for growth ahead.

J&J’s VMS portfolio accounts for just 0.1% of its total consumer healthcare business, so the Zarbee’s deal will provide a significant boost (see the table from OTC DASHBOARD below showing J&J’s current OTC sales split by major category). There will also be scope to build the brand internationally – at present, Zarbee’s focus is almost exclusively on the US market, so J&J will likely use its considerable marketing muscle to roll out the brand in other key regions where it has a strong presence, like Europe and Asia-Pacific.

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Founded in 2008, Zarbee’s Naturals is majority owned by the Growth Fund of L Catterton in partnership with various minority owners, including Sorenson Capital. The deal, which is expected to complete in Q3 2018, will include the full line of Zarbee’s Naturals products for children and adults.

Product innovation has been one of the main drivers behind exceptional growth for Zarbee’s Naturals. In April 2018, the company introduced three Children’s Complete Multivitamins in a gummy format, including Complete Multivitamin + Iron, Complete Multivitamin + Probiotic and Complete Multivitamin + Immune. In partnership with Amazon, Zarbee’s also released a Baby Bee Essentials Gift Set complete with a bee romper and products such as Gripe Water and petroleum-free Baby Soothing Chest Rub. Paediatric products like these will fit well with J&J’s family-friendly image.

As Health and Wellness climbs up the list of consumer priorities, the market for herbal and natural options is booming. Take a look at what the future holds for this market with Nicholas Hall’s upcoming report Herbals & Naturals: Opportunities in a Vast & Dynamic Area of Consumer Health. Scheduled for publication in August, this report will include coverage of 9 leading global markets, analysis into a wide range of categories including Herbal & Natural Supplements, Topical Analgesics, Cough Remedies, Laxatives and more, plus forecast sales. Benefit from early bird rates when you pre-order today! For more information, or to pre-order your copy, please contact melissa.lee@nicholashall.com.