Study: Acid-reflux drugs ineffective in asthma patients
WASHINGTON For nearly 20 years, it was believed that such severe asthma symptoms as coughing, wheezing and breathlessness were triggered in part by acid reflux. A new study conducted by the American Lung Association’s Asthma Clinical Research Centers, however, found the longstanding practice of prescribing heartburn medication to be ineffective and unnecessarily expensive for some asthma patients who do not exhibit symptoms associated with acid reflux, such as heartburn or stomach pain.
Patients participating in the American Lung Association’s ACRC study were randomly given either 80 milligrams of esomeprazole or placebo. Patients in both groups had similar numbers of poor asthma control episodes, and there were no differences in their lung function or other asthma symptoms. These results show that prescription acid controllers were no more effective than placebo for the treatment of asthma.
The results of this study, which were published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, are considered to be the most comprehensive evaluation to date of the efficacy of prescription heartburn medication to control respiratory flare-ups in asthmatics whose symptoms have not been well controlled by other therapies.
“Each year, people with asthma are spending as much as $10 million dollars on prescription heartburn medication believing it will help control attacks of wheezing, coughing and breathlessness,” stated Norman Edelman, American Lung Association chief medical officer. “Now we know with confidence that silent acid reflux does not play a significant role in poor asthma control. Talk with your doctor before discontinuing any medication, as each patient’s specific needs will vary.”
For asthma patients with symptoms of gastric reflux such as heartburn that occurs at least twice weekly, the American Lung Association recommends prescription heartburn medication be taken to control heartburn, and not asthma symptoms.
GSK launches new Tums Dual Action
PITTSBURGH GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare on Wednesday announced the launch of its Tums Dual Action, which contains magnesium hydroxide and 10 mg of famotidine (the ingredient most commonly associated with Johnson & Johnson’s Pepcid formulations), in addition to the Tums mainstay ingredient calcium carbonate.
“Tums Dual Action is a natural extension for the iconic Tums brand, offering a proven solution for occasional heartburn sufferers looking for long-lasting relief from a trusted source,” stated Jack Levy, Tums brand manager. “With it, heartburn sufferers won’t need to think about whether or not lunchtime heartburn will interrupt dinner, or whether they’ll be able to sleep without being bothered by heartburn.”
In addition to providing relief to occasional heartburn sufferers, Tums Dual Action can also help patients who experience breakthrough heartburn while taking other medications like proton pump inhibitors. Despite high compliance with PPIs, 46% or more of PPI users experience breakthrough heartburn, or episodes of heartburn between doses, often at night, GlaxoSmithKline stated.
TUMS Dual Action is currently available nationwide at drug, grocery and mass merchandise stores in both Berry and Mint flavors. The expected retail price for a 25-dose bottle is $8.99, and a 50-dose bottle is $15.49.
Through May 15, consumers also have the opportunity to play an instant-win trivia game at www.tumsdualaction.com. The virtual multiple-choice quiz asks consumers general questions about heartburn-inducing foods, and gives participants the opportunity to win one of 400 instant-win “dinner and a movie” prizes consisting of a $25 gift card for Movie Cash or Fandango and a $25 gift card to Brinker Restaurants (Chili’s Grill & Bar, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina or Maggiano’s Little Italy).
All players will be entered into a sweepstakes to win a grand prize weekend getaway to San Francisco, Chicago or New York.
OTC product sales increased 2.4% in 2008, new research reveals
LITTLE FALLS, N.J. Manufacturers’ sales of over-the-counter drugs grew by 2.4% to $18.3 billion in 2008, according to the latest research in Nonprescription Drugs USA 2008: Market Analysis and Opportunities from worldwide consulting and research firm Kline & Company, released Tuesday.
Private-label OTC medicines were up 8.2% over the same time period, within which antacids and allergy medicines posted the highest growth last year, driven primarily by increases in sales of private-label omeprazole (Procter & Gamble’s Prilosec OTC) and cetirizine (Johnson & Johnson’s Zyrtec).
Allergy, asthma, and sinus medications were up 17.3% as a result of strong sales from Johnson & Johnson’s Zyrtec brand switch from Rx-to-OTC, as well as its equivalent private-label cetirizine; feminine products was another area that grew 7.3% in 2008 as a result of strong sales growth of personal lubricants, as well as the Rx-to-OTC switch brand Plan B by Barr Laboratories.
“By contrasting the overall growth rates for OTCs with the growth rates for private-label products we can easily make the case that more Americans were seeking value and using private-label in 2008,” stated Laura Mahecha, industry manager at Kline’s Healthcare practice.
Not all categories suffer from higher private-label growth, however, as some are able to maintain growth for branded products.
“During tough economic times, consumers are willing to spend more for some brands they are loyal to and that offer good efficacy,” Mahechas said.
If consumers view brands as being a commodity or not offering special advantages, conversely, they may be able to make the trade-off to private-label.
“As the recession continues into 2009, we expect to see increased ‘value messages’ as part of branded advertising to combat the impacts of private-label erosion. Branded OTCs may use advertising messages to stress the brand’s value, efficacy, safety, and possibly longer-lasting doses, which translates into fewer doses and therefore, costs less,” Mahecha said.
According to preliminary research for Kline’s upcoming report Impact of Recessions on the U.S. OTC Market, past declines during recessions have not been particularly steep for the industry. OTC sales declined two years in a row — from 1999 to 2000 — with overall manufacturers’ sales dropping 0.6%, and then it declined again from 2000 to 2001 by 0.5%.