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Diet aids lose sales mass as ad guidelines get tighter

BY Michael Johnsen

Overall sales of over-the-counter diet aids continue to shrink. Dollar sales in the category have dropped 13.2% to $294.4 million and units sold dropped by 5.3% to 13.6 million for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 6, according to Information Resources Inc., across food, drug and mass (minus Walmart). The drops reflect, in part, the impact earlier this year of Food and Drug Administration safety concerns around two top-selling diet-aid brands, Alli and Hydroxycut, based on 32 reports of serious adverse events (worldwide) and 23 adverse events (domestic), respectively, over an approximate 10-year span in each case.

Of course, the other piece of the puzzle around declining diet-aid sales is the time of the year—diet aids sell best the few weeks after many people have resolved to lose weight in the new year and the few weeks before bikini season.

With a more aggressive FDA in regard to this category, there is the possibility that testimonial advertising—those ads that feature before-and-after photos of a person who used the product and realized significant results—may be in jeopardy. The Federal Trade Commission currently is considering a change from a “results not typical” blanket disclaimer accompanying those before-and-after shots with a disclaimer of what the typical results actually are.

Top-selling diet aids on the upswing

*In millionsSource: Information Resources Inc. for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 6 across food, drug and mass (minus Walmart)
BRAND SALES* % CHG
SlimQuick $20.8 11.2%
MegaT 12.4 36.9
Xenadrine RFA1 9.1 NA
Applid Nutrition 7.6 29.0
Metabolife Ultraweight 5.0 43.9
OVERALL $294.4 -13.2%

According to some in the industry, those diet-aid marketers who hang their advertising campaigns on those before-and-after testimonials will be most impacted by any FTC change in testimonial advertising. And that’s not altogether bad news, as several not-available-at-retail weight-loss products use those before-and-after testimonials to insinuate unrealistic weight-loss results.

“[An] advertiser needs to be able to substantiate any broad, sweeping claims that they make as far as how the product works,” Duffy MacKay, VP scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, told Drug Store News earlier this year. “We’re all for getting those outliers that make us all look ridiculous out of the picture,” he said, though eliminating testimonials may not be the answer. “What the FTC needs is stronger regulatory activity, not new guidelines.”

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Hy-Vee celebrates the other white meat

BY Alaric DeArment

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa A lot of people complain about pork barrel spending, but not Midwest supermarket chain Hy-Vee.

October is National Pork Month, and the West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee announced Friday that sales of the meat have increased more than 25% over October 2008. The chain said it was on track to increase pork tonnage by more than 30%.

 

“With pork prices the lowest they’ve been in more than a decade, we’ve focused our marketing efforts on promoting pork as a great value for consumers,” Hy-Vee assistant VP meat operations Kenan Judge said in a statement. “Today’s shopper is looking for nutritious, economical meal ideas, and pork perfectly fits the bill.”

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Patients prefer new diabetes drug Victoza over its competitor, survey finds

BY Alaric DeArment

MONTREAL A new diabetes drug satisfied patients more than its competitor, according to a study funded by the drug’s manufacturer.

According to data on 379 patients who took the Diabetes Treatment Satisfaction Questionnaires, presented Thursday at the 20th World Diabetes Congress and published in medical journal The Lancet, patients taking Novo Nordisk’s drug Victoza (liraglutide) perceived less abnormally low or high blood sugar levels — known respectively as hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia — than those taking Byetta (exenatide), made by Eli Lilly & Co., Amylin Corp. and Alkermes.

Victoza is approved in Europe, but Novo Nordisk is still waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

“Liraglutide has shown here in a convincing study that it is associated with less nausea, less perceived hypoglycemia and definitely higher patient satisfaction compared to exenatide,” principal investigator Wolfgang Schmidt said in a statement. “Patient-reported outcomes data is an important extension of the efficacy data. If a patient is satisfied with his or her treatment, then they are much more likely to really stick to the treatment over the long term, which is necessary in Type 2 diabetes.”

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