Report: OTC recalls mean new opportunities for smaller market players

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Product recalls over the past two years have eroded consumer trust in over-the-counter drugs; however, those same recalls represent opportunity for smaller market players to gain exposure and build brand awareness, wrote Laura Mahecha, industry manager for health care at research firm Kline, in an online report issued Wednesday. In addition, private-label brands and “natural OTCs” are enjoying strong growth. 

“The U.S. market for nonprescription drugs will see a dip in sales in 2011, primarily due to the absence of Johnson & Johnson’s brands from the market,” Mahecha noted. With their reintroduction in 2012, however, the market will return on a growth track, expecting to reach an average annual growth rate of 3% through 2015.” 

Johnson & Johnson realized a 20% drop in sales due to those recalls, Mahecha reported, and Novartis benefited the most with a 40% boost in sales in part due to the launch of the proton-pump inhibitor Prevacid 24HR and sales gains across its Excedrin brand. 

“The ability of some brands to take advantage of the new openings in the market and post high growth rates has helped offset the market leader’s declines, keeping the market at a constant level,” she wrote. “A significant boost to the market also came from the success of some new switch brands, which have seen rapid growth in the market.”

Private-label manufacturers have benefited from both the recalls and a still-challenged economy. From 2009 to 2010, while the overall market posted flat performance with 0.3% growth, private-label OTCs grew by 9.4%.

Natural OTCs, including homeopathic remedies, represent a safer treatment alternative for many consumers concerned over the recalls. “The natural trend, which has been dominating the U.S. personal care industry, has also set roots in the pharmaceutical market as customers gravitate toward natural products across the board,” Mahecha reported. 

As many as 47% of U.S. customers believe natural OTCs are as effective as traditional OTCs, according to a recent survey carried out by Kline. “Exposure alone [because of the recalls] is not what is driving consumer interest,” Mahecha indicated. “One of the other crucial findings that comes from customer surveys is that, to a certain extent, natural OTCs do not face direct competition from traditional OTCs.”

Kline will be examining trends across switch opportunities and natural OTCs in two upcoming reports: Global Rx-to-OTC Switch 2012: Forecasts and Opportunities and Natural OTCs 2011: Impact of Non-drug Products on the U.S. OTC Market

To see Mahecha’s article online, click here

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