HEALTH

Consumers intrigued by new ReliefChews

BY Richard Monks

WHIPPANY, N.J. — Bayer Healthcare has seen tremendous consumer interest since launching its Alka-Seltzer Heartburn ReliefChews two years ago. IRI data showed that for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 9, sales of the chewable antacid tablets has skyrocketed 520.4% to $16.4 million.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

While Alka-Seltzer Heartburn ReliefChews still ranks relatively low on the list of top-selling antacid tablets, the gains made over the last year make the products the category’s fastest-growing brand.

Marketers said ReliefChews — available in assorted-fruit flavor and the recently added cool mint flavor — are soft textured, and do not have a chalky and gritty consistency. In addition, they stressed that ReliefChews provide instant relief of heartburn, neutralizing acid on contact.

In addition to the antacid tablets, Bayer also offers Alka-Seltzer Heartburn + Gas Relief-Chews, providing the added benefit of helping to alleviate such gastrointestinal problems as bloating and pressure.

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HEALTH

Category evolves from relief into prevention

BY Richard Monks

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.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

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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Walgreens, AmeriCares deliver flu shot to 5,000 uninsured patients

BY Michael Johnsen

STAMFORD, Conn. – Uninsured Americans in seven states will have the opportunity to receive flu shots at no cost this fall thanks to a new collaboration between AmeriCares and Walgreens. More than 30 free clinics and community health centers are scheduled to hold flu clinics before the end of October. 
 
Children and adults must be uninsured in order to qualify. More than 5,000 low-income patients of AmeriCares – supported clinics in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont – are expected to benefit.
 
“Vaccination is one of the best ways to prevent the flu,” stated Julie Varughese, AmeriCares medical officer. “Our new flu shot campaign with Walgreens can help ensure thousands of low-income uninsured Americans have access to this important vaccine. We are doing our part to keep families and communities healthy this winter.”
 
The collaboration is part of Walgreens national flu shot voucher program developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is the fifth year for the initiative, through which Walgreens has provided more than $40 million worth of flu shot vouchers since its inception. 
 
The flu vaccination campaign is also an extension of AmeriCares U.S. Program, which supports more than 800 free clinics and community health centers nationwide with free medicine and supplies. The emergency response and global health organization is the nation’s largest provider of donated medical aid to the U.S. health care safety net, last year delivering $117 million in products to a network of clinics and health centers serving 5 million patients in need. The program helps partner clinics to increase capacity, provide comprehensive care, improve health outcomes and reduce costs for patients.
 
 
 
 
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