OTC sales up 2.4%
A 2.4% growth rate across nonprescription medicines certainly speaks volumes to the value of self-care, especially when you put that growth into a little bit of context — sales of prescription medicines only climbed 1.3% in 2008, according to IMS Health. To be sure, the prescription drug dollar volume may be some 15 times greater than that of OTC, but it certainly supports the conclusions of a February Kaiser Family Foundation survey — that 35% of consumers “relied on home remedies or over-the-counter drugs instead of going to see a doctor.”
Private-label OTC medicines were tracking 8.2% higher as compared with 2007, which speaks to the value of that self-care in a depressed economy. So not only is the out-of-work, healthcare-crunched consumer selecting lower cost nonprescription treatments over the co-pays of their doctor visits and three-tiered prescription drug plans, but they’re also reaching right past the branded option for the cheaper national brand equivalent.
So what does it mean? It means pharmacists need to be aware of this economically-driven trend so that they can a) better advise their patients as to appropriate OTC solutions, and b) help their patients identify less-costly prescriptions, generics for example, when those OTC substitutions may be less than ideal.
And it means now, more than ever, OTC manufacturers need to focus on innovative product introductions, and soon. Because as important as private label penetration is to a retailer, store brands don’t drive top line sales.
Study finds that high protein, fat diet can lead to health problems
ST. LOUIS A new study in the April issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, shows that in some cases, diets that are high in both fat and protein can lead to health problems.
The researchers, led by Christopher Newgard of Duke Medical Center, reported that rats fed high-fat diets supplemented with extra branched chain amino acids don’t have to eat as much or gain as much weight to develop insulin resistance, as do chubbier animals fed a high-fat diet alone. Moreover, those ill effects of branched chain amino acids, which include 3 of the 20 amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins, occurred only in the context of a high-fat diet.
“We’ve all made a big deal out of the fact that people in the United States eat too much fat and sugar, but we’ve underestimated the protein component,” Newgard said.
Surveys have shown that most people who overeat don’t show any particular prejudice toward one food group or another.
By comparing the metabolic profiles of obese versus lean people in the new study, the researchers found that key among the many differences between the two groups were elevated levels of BCAA in those who were overweight. They also showed that BCAA tend to climb along with insulin resistance, a condition that is a precursor to diabetes.
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.