HEALTH

Consolidating markets: Q&A with GSK Consumer Health’s Brian McNamara

BY Michael Johnsen

Drug Store News on Sunday caught up with Brian McNamara, region head of Europe and the Americas of the recently christened GSK Consumer Healthcare, representing the joint venture between GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis to talk about what a consolidating OTC market means for the industry, and how GSK will be coming to market.

Drug Store News: What does a consolidating OTC market mean for the industry?

McNamara: The recent deals re-enforce the attractiveness of consumer health care and the widely held belief that it is an area poised for continued growth. With manufacturers and retailers continuing to consolidate, the question is how this actually drives value for the consumer and shopper. I strongly believe that in these combinations, there is huge potential to drive winning outcomes for consumers and shoppers.

The first thing we need to deliver as a result of these deals is a step change in the pace of innovation. We need to bring products to market that are differentiated and fulfill unmet consumer needs as quickly as possible. All you have to do is take a look at the success of some of the recent Rx-to-OTC switches in the United States — such as Flonase Allergy Relief, Nasacort 24 Hour, Nexium 24 and Allegra — just to name a few. The success of these switches show there is a real demand for differentiated solutions that address everyday health issues.

Second, beyond accelerating the pace of innovation, industry consolidation should lead to organizations that have improved capabilities in such areas as consumer insights. Further, there is major opportunity to better collaborate with our retail partners and leverage the value inherent in the data and insights they have on consumers and shoppers.

And finally, we’re all aware of the cost pressures faced by the U.S. healthcare system and the tremendous role that self-care can play in easing that burden. Industry consolidation always brings with it promises of greater efficiency and streamlined operations. But the end game should be improved insights and accelerated innovation, leading to better value for our consumers and customers.

DSN: What does the new GSK/Novartis joint venture GSK Consumer Healthcare bring to the industry, and when will the new OTC company be fully operational?

McNamara: The new GSK Consumer Healthcare, which was formed in March, is now one of the world’s largest consumer healthcare businesses, and a leading player in over-the-counter medications and specialist oral care globally. We’re now integrating our operations and continuing to serve our customers. In North America, we have a great portfolio of leading brands, in addition to the best capabilities and best talent from each company.

And, most importantly, the new GSK Consumer Healthcare is focused on helping more people do more, feel better and live longer. That purpose is why we’re in business and it’s no different for retailers and service providers, which makes us all completely aligned. Our shared purpose gives me a lot of confidence that we can do great things to improve the lives of consumers.

DSN: What does this mean for retail trade partners? How is this transition being navigated?

McNamara: As we launch the new GSK Consumer Healthcare, we realize that it’s an incredible opportunity to build a new company that does things better than each of its predecessors.

In our ongoing, proactive conversations with our trade partners and a survey of some key leaders at our retail partners, we know there are three key areas where our industry can do better in terms of supporting our retail customers.

The first is supply chain excellence. The new GSK Consumer Healthcare also will benefit from an increased capacity and flexibility in our manufacturing network. Like many of our industry peers, both GSK and Novartis have faced supply challenges in the past few years. And while our industry has made progress in recent years, we still have a long way to go. Our No. 1 priority is providing safe and efficacious products to our consumers, which means we must be able to deliver these products to our retail partners at the right time and cost. We realize that this is the foundation of trust between the consumer, the retailer and the manufacturer. At GSK Consumer Healthcare, we’re committed to creating an industry leading supply chain.

The second area is driving truly differentiated, consumer-focused innovation — and this means beyond Rx-to-OTC switch alone. Innovation can’t mean only ‘switch.’ We also have to be careful as manufacturers not to confuse ‘proliferation’ with ‘innovation,’ and to stay committed to investing in big, breakthrough ideas that drive real value for consumers. This requires better consumer insights, faster-moving research and development organizations and better communication with health authorities.

Finally, despite the fact that we’re getting bigger, we need to be more nimble, flexible and responsive than ever as we work together with our retail partners. In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, the retailer has become the key day-to-day healthcare partner for consumers. In order for us to collaborate more effectively, it’s critical that we don’t get buried in our own bureaucracy, and that we improve how we work with retailers to deliver value to the consumer.

DSN: What are the key OTC categories for the new joint venture? How will GSK Consumer maintain its leadership role in those categories?

McNamara: We have not announced the structure of the new company yet. However, the new GSK Consumer Healthcare has a well-balanced portfolio and a broad geographic footprint. By combining our OTC and fast moving consumer goods capabilities and expertise, we bring significant scale and opportunities for accelerated growth — bringing to market brands our consumers love and innovating in ways that really improve lives.

We are now one of the leading OTC companies in the world, holding strong positions in specialist oral health, pain, skin health and family nutrition. Our portfolio includes such leading brands as Sensodyne, Theraflu, Polident, Nicorette, TUMS and Excedrin. With a heritage of more than 160 years, our brands are successful in more than 100 countries, showing our passion for quality and innovation backed by trusted science.

DSN: And what might we see coming down the pike in terms of switch activity?

McNamara: There is clearly a consumer need for new, differentiated solutions for everyday health issues. This will be a key area of focus for the new GSK Consumer Healthcare.

For example, this spring we completed the RX-to-OTC switch of Flonase Allergy Relief. And to date, it’s been highly successful, driving category growth and offering an estimated 50 million people suffering from allergies a new solution.

By empowering the consumer with more OTC choices like Flonase, it creates an environment where they can manage their health conditions themselves, while also creating an opportunity for drug stores to serve as important educators and partners that help manage these conditions.

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Kline: Switch products help OTC sales reach record levels

BY Michael Johnsen

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Sales of OTC medicines at the manufacturer's level grew by 1.4% in 2014, reaching more than $24 billion, Kline's Healthcare Practice reported Wednesday with the release of its Nonprescription Drugs USA study. Out of the seven product classes tracked by Kline, five posted growth, with upper respiratory, digestive products and feminine products moving at a faster pace.
 
"Among the key factors supporting the market’s growth are the sales and shares increases from select switch brands, such as Pfizer’s Nexium 24HR, which drove solid growth in the digestive products category, as well as the launch of Sanofi’s Nasacort 24HR, which generated healthy gains in the allergy category," reported Marcela Chifu, marketing coordinator, Kline's Consumer and Healthcare Practice.
 
Johnson & Johnson and Novartis, which had suffered major setbacks due to manufacturing issues in the past, overcame these issues to post solid gains in 2014 for several of their key OTC brands, including Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol and Motrin and Novartis’ Excedrin (now supplied by GlaxoSmithKline in its joint venture with Novartis). In addition, select switch brands continue to perform well, even if they are already a few years old. For example, Bayer’s MiraLAX was brought to the market through Rx-to-OTC switch in 2006 and had solid sales gains in 2014, Kline reported.
 
"Another trend that helped drive dollar sales is increased sales of OTC brands with premium price points, such as Plan B One Step (Teva) emergency contraceptive," Chifu reported. 
 
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Journal study finds TriCalm ‘most effective OTC itch relief treatment’

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO – The journal Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology earlier this week published a study finding that Cosmederm Bioscience's TriCalm OTC itch relief solution was superior to diphenhydramine 2% and hydrocortisone 1%.
 
"The results of this study are a testament to TriCalm's value as the most effective over-the-counter itch relief treatment," said Sean Edwards, president and CEO, Cosmederm Bioscience. "They validate our claim that TriCalm is more effective at relieving itch than hydrocortisone 1%, providing fast-acting itch relief without the potential side effects of steroid-based creams."
 
TriCalm was tested against two objectives: first, to assess the anti-itch effect in reducing intensity and duration of itch, and second, to compare TriCalm's effectiveness against typical anti-itch products containing diphenhydramine 2% and hydrocortisone 1% active ingredients.
 
This double-blinded, vehicle-controlled, randomized, crossover study recorded itch intensity and duration in 48 healthy subjects before and after skin treatment with TriCalm hydrogel, diphenhydramine 2%, hydrocortisone 1% and hydrogel vehicle, used as a control.
 
TriCalm hydrogel produced the highest itch reduction in all three areas measured: itch intensity, itch duration and total itch perceived – a combined measure of both intensity and duration that represented the overall itch experienced by the subject. Conclusively, the study found that TriCalm hydrogel was six times more effective than diphenhydramine 2%, and eight times more effective than hydrocortisone 1% at reducing the sensation of itch on the subjects' skin.  
 
Itch is the most common complaint in dermatology clinics. The study was designed to demonstrate effective, steroid-free itch relief.
 
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