HEALTH

Study on Zyrtec switch to OTC reveals unexpected conclusions

BY Michael Johnsen

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. Using a new research paradigm that integrates prescription and over-the-counter drug data, Wolters Kluwer Health and The Nielsen Company on Monday released results of a joint study that go against conventional thinking about the dynamics when a prescription drug switches to OTC.

The Nielsen-Wolters Kluwer Health study entitled, “Consumer Behavior and Managed Care Impact of the Zyrtec Rx-to-OTC Switch,” reveals that a full 84 percent of those who switched to Zyrtec OTC were sourced from other OTC products rather than from other prescription products as many had expected. In fact, of all people who migrated to Zyrtec OTC from other allergy therapies, only 6 percent were former prescription Zyrtec users. Further, only 27 percent of prescription Zyrtec patients “followed the molecule” and switched to Zyrtec OTC.  

Focusing on allergy drug Zyrtec OTC and the spring 2008 allergy market, the study draws three key conclusions relating to the dynamics of a recent major OTC switch. First, it suggests that there was lower carryover from the base of prescription Zyrtec users than some expected. Second, switching to Zyrtec OTC led to increased spending on allergy medication for some consumers. And third, rather than restricting access to Rx drugs, managed care organizations may have actually helped to drive OTC utilization.

“Nielsen and Wolters Kluwer are breaking new ground here by providing the healthcare industry with important new information on consumer behavior and total healthcare purchase decisions in the context of a major Rx-to-OTC switch,” stated Nicholas Hall, chairman and chief executive officer of Nicholas Hall & Company, a business intelligence group tracking the global OTC market.  “If these newly-identified factors are corroborated in future research programs, marketers will be forced to re-evaluate the key drivers of an OTC switch, which could change and enhance marketing strategies over the coming decade.  In tomorrow’s recessive OTC market, manufacturers must be even more focused on consumer behavior, needs and expectations if a switch is to produce much needed new mega-brands.”

Another key finding suggests that, contrary to popular perceptions about OTCs being lower cost alternatives to prescriptions, most of those who switched to Zyrtec OTC actually paid more out of pocket versus their prior therapy.  

According to the data, 68 percent of consumers who switched to Zyrtec OTC paid more, with the average differential an $11.68 increase versus their prior therapy. This indicates that increased access to OTC may be more important than the cost of the therapies or medications.  It is important to note that this result reflects changes in consumer out-of-pocket medication expenses only and not the full treatment cost, e.g., office visits, diagnostic tests, the companies said.

“This is the first time anyone has looked at a medication market with Rx and OTC utilizations as a whole rather than as independent components,” said David Martin, vice president of sales and marketing, Wolters Kluwer Health. “What we found goes against preconceived notions about a brand switch to OTC. For one, it’s not safe to assume that a switch automatically leads to lower out-of-pocket for the patient.”

Authors of the study, Rick Crangle of Wolters Kluwer Health and Suzanne Chiaramonte of NielsenHealth, also examined how managed care may have influenced consumer actions in the allergy medication space. They discovered that although many MCOs did not influence consumer choice to utilize OTC alternatives by traditional means, such as rejections or changes to co-pays as was expected, a significant shift toward OTC amongst plan enrollees occurred nevertheless; furthermore, the shifts towards OTC treatment varied by managed care plan. Consumer targeted programs initiated by the plans themselves were cited as a probable cause showing the growing impact of managed care.

“By tracking the actual consumption related to Zyrtec, we’ve created the first true benchmark for an Rx-to-OTC switch challenging several industry perceptions and assumptions,” offered Matt Dumas, managing director for NielsenHealth. “Although this study focuses on allergy, HealthScape Consumer is helping clients in other markets impacted by Rx and OTC patient switching behavior including upper GI, pain, and smoking cessation.”

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Glucorell, Anafit settle FTC deceptive advertising claims

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Two marketers of dietary supplements that purportedly prevented and treated diabetes have settled Federal Trade Commission charges that they engaged in deceptive advertising practices, FTC reported Thursday.

According to the FTC’s complaint, GlucorelFTCd  and Anafit, both based in Orlando, Fla., made false and unsubstantiated claims that two dietary supplements, Insulow and Glucorell R, were effective for preventing and treating diabetes.

The order contains a judgment of $493,545, which is the total amount the defendants received in sales for Glucorell R and Insulow between January 2005 and May 2008. However, the entire judgment is suspended due to their inability to pay. If it is determined that the financial information given to the FTC was untruthful, then the full amount of the judgment will automatically become due.

Along with statements in their ads such as “Insulow may be the only thing between you … and a needle,” the defendants also made unsubstantiated claims that Insulow prevents or reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes,  is an effective treatment for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, lowers high blood sugar levels, prevents or reverses insulin resistence, increases fat loss and decreases insulin-related obesity and enables diabetics to reduce or eliminate the amount of drugs and insulin required to keep blood sugar levels healthy and reduce insulin resistance, according to the complaint. The FTC also alleged that the defendants falsely advertised that all of these claims except the last had been proven by clinical studies.

For Glucorell R, the defendants’ advertisements allegedly claimed that Glucorell R is effective for treating Type 2 diabetes, prevents or reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and is effective in treating and preventing cancer. According to the complaint, the defendants also falsely advertised that the last two Glucorell R claims were proven by clinical studies.

According to papers filed with the court, Glucorell has been primarily responsible for packaging, distributing and selling Insulow, and has marketed both supplements; while Anafit has been responsible for packaging, distributing, selling and marketing only Glucorell R.

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Prestige Brands Holding posts Q3 1 percent net revenue gain

BY Michael Johnsen

IRVINGTON, N.Y. Prestige Brands Holdings on Thursday posted net revenues of $88.1 million for its second quarter ended Sept. 30, up 1 percent, primarily from increases in Cleary Eyes and Little Remedies brands in the over-the-counter sector, the company reported and the introduction of two products—Chloraseptic Allergen Block and Little Allergies Allergen Block.

Little Remedies grew 37 percent in the quarter, Mark Pettie, Prestige chairman and chief executive officer, told analysts during a conference call. The growth can be attributed the introduction of Little Noses Saline Mist, which delivers nonmedicated pediatric cough-cold relief in a new form, he said. “This product supplements our existing nasal spray business and is providing considerable incremental growth in the expanding pediatrics saline segment.”

Little Remedies also has benefited from dual placement in one of Prestige’s major drug customers. “Early returns on this program indicate strong incrementality for this customer and we expect continued success will make for a compelling selling story with other customers,” Pettie said.

Also helping to drive growth for Little Remedies was last month’s industrywide voluntary label change of children’s medicines marketed for use in children under age 4. “This change has allowed us to get our two voluntarily withdrawn SKUs reinstated in a number of accounts. But it came too late to influence the seasonal cough-cold resets in the majority of our customers. As a result, there will be a modest benefit to Little Remedies in fiscal ’09, but broad reinstatement will not be possible until the fiscal year ’10 cough-cold season,” Pettie said.

Pettie also noted that the company’s wart remover category continues to be down, slightly. “The cryogenic of the wart remover category took a rather steep price reduction as our fiscal year and the summer wart season began,” Pettie explained. “During our fiscal first quarter the Compound W Freeze Off business in particular was significantly depressed by the fact that our new, lower-priced eight application products did not get into certain retailer’s sets until late in the quarter, with some of that transition carrying into Q2. … We [had] projected that in the second quarter, wart care revenues would continue to be down versus one year ago due to the significant cryogenic segment price declines but that we would see meaningfully improved performance relative to Q1. That has proven to be the case, as the pricing came into line and we restored advertising support to Compound W.”

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