Category evolves from relief into prevention
With an estimated 60 million people in the United States experiencing heartburn at least once a month, and more than 15 million suffering from it daily, products to treat the condition have become more sophisticated, and the battle for supremacy in the $2.18 billion-a-year antacid tablets market has grown more heated.
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According to recent IRI data, Pfizer’s Nexium 24HR, which went from prescription to over-the-counter status in May 2014, has surpassed longtime market leader Procter & Gamble’s Prilosec OTC as the top-selling antacid tablet. Together, the two products account for more than a quarter of the category’s sales.
Suppliers noted that as the science behind antacids continues to evolve and more options become available, the market will flourish.
“Consumers like the ability to try which product works best for them,” a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble said. “We expect this category will continue to be a robust and competitive market.”
Nexium 24HR and Prilosec OTC — both nonprescription versions of medications that got their start behind the pharmacy counter — signify the changing nature of the antacids category. Classified as protein-pump inhibitors, Nexium and Prilosec are preventive medicines, unlike antacid formulas that anchored the category for decades that provided relief after the fact.
Marketers said both fit perfectly with consumers’ desire to take more control over their own health.
“This shift in the way consumers are choosing to manage their health has certainly played a role in the receptiveness of Rx-to-OTC switches,” a Pfizer spokeswoman said. “OTC medicines are an important way to meet consumers’ demands and engage them in their own health care. This is especially important given the evidence shows consumers who are more actively engaged in their health experience better outcomes and lower costs.”
Suppliers say that while the newest stomach relief products help patients take more control over their health care, it remains crucial that people continue to consult with physicians and pharmacists to ensure they are not putting their well-being at risk.
“People should always consult their healthcare provider before taking a new medicine,” the Pfizer spokeswoman stressed. “Even with OTC products.”
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