HEALTH

Antacids to drive growth

BY Michael Johnsen

Heading into 2014, there are a number of growth drivers across the digestives space. There’s the possible switch of Nexium into over-the-counter aisles, brands like Imodium are experiencing a resurgence with their return to the shelves, and Chattem is bringing the venerable Rolaids brand back into the digestives fold.

(For the full category review, including sales data, click here.)

The biggest piece of the digestives pie is antacid tablets, however, and while the category is presently trending down by 1.6% to slightly less than $2 billion — according to IRI data for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 6 across total U.S. multi-outlets — it is out of this category that many of the 2014 growth drivers will originate.

“Antacids play an important role in the overall digestive health category,” noted Tracy Nunziata, marketing director for Bayer HealthCare’s Consumer Care. “[The category] has among the highest household penetration rates of all the digestive health segments, at 37%.” Bayer recently boosted its presence within the space with the launch of Alka Seltzer Fruit Chews. That brand as a whole is up 422.4% in sales to $7.2 million.

Should Pfizer’s application to switch Nexium be approved, presumably after the patent expires in May, a $6 billion book of prescription business in the United States will make its way to antacid aisles, according to IMS Health data compiled from 2012. That suggests the latest proton-pump inhibitor to make the switch could dwarf sales of the No. 1 antacid tablet Prilosec OTC.

Chattem earlier this fall unveiled its plans to re-introduce the iconic Rolaids heartburn-relief brand to the U.S. market. Chattem will support the re-launch of Rolaids with a fully integrated marketing campaign featuring chef and restaurateur Guy Fieri.

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Study: Lactation consultants improve breast-feeding rates

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — In two separate clinical trials, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found that periodic meetings with a lactation consultant encourages women traditionally resistant to breast-feeding to do so, at least for a few months, or long enough for mother and child to gain health benefits. The results of the trials were published online last week in American Journal of Public Health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth, followed by continued breast-feeding for one year or longer as other foods are introduced. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than 75% of infants nationwide are breastfed at all and fewer than half are still being breast-fed at six months. Health benefits of breast-feeding can include reduced incidence of ear infections, stomach illness and lower obesity rates for children and, for mothers, a reduced risk for pre-menopausal breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

In one of the two trials included in this paper, women who were regularly encouraged and given instruction and support for breast-feeding were more than four times as likely to exclusively breast-feed their infant at one month and nearly three times more likely to do so at three months, compared with the control group.

"The effects of the interventions in our trials — and our use of lactation consultants in particular — were more impressive than those reported by two recent reviews that evaluated the effects of the numerous previous trials aimed at improving breast-feeding rates," stated Karen Bonuck, professor of family and social medicine and of obstetrics and gynecology and women’s health at Einstein.

Some of the lowest rates of breast-feeding are known to occur among Black/non-Hispanic, younger, overweight and less-educated mothers — together those women made up a large majority of those enrolled in the two trials. Patients included in the trials received their care at Montefiore Medical Center, Einstein’s University Hospital.

"Two-thirds of the women in the trials were either overweight or obese, which means they’re not inclined to breast feed," Bonuck said. "There are physical difficulties with the baby latching on, many of these women have difficulty producing enough milk, and there may be psychological barriers as well. Yet we showed that support from a lactation consultant significantly improves their chances of breast-feeding for three months — sufficient time for mother and baby to obtain important health benefits."

 

 

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USA Today investigative report: Many companies masquerading products as dietary supplements run by criminals

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. — A USA TODAY investigation on Friday found that many of those companies marketing dietary supplement containing with drug-spiked products are run by people with criminal backgrounds and regulatory run-ins. 

The crimes range from those involving illicit drugs, including barbiturates, crack cocaine, Ecstasy and other narcotics, to arrests for selling or possessing steroids and human growth hormone. 

"Other supplement company executives have records of fraud, theft, assault, weapons offenses, money laundering or other offenses," USA Today reported.

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