HEALTH

Health Choices Coalition renews plea for FSA-eligible OTCs with no Rx needed

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Consumer Healthcare Products Association and the other members of the Health Choices Coalition on Friday sent letters to members of Congress urging the repeal of the requirement that prevents consumers from using their flexible spending arrangements to purchase over-the-counter medicines without first getting a doctor’s prescription. 

“Over-the-counter medicines serve as a first line of defense for American families’ healthcare needs while offering a valuable cost-savings to consumers,” stated John Gay, CHPA VP government affairs. “Repeal of this provision can save time and money for patients, physicians and our healthcare system at large."

A recent survey by CHPA revealed that primary care physicians estimated, on average, that 10% or more of office visits were unnecessary and could have been avoided by self-management, including the use of OTC medications.

As the second anniversary of the enactment of healthcare reform approaches, members of the Health Choices Coalition are urging Congress to take action in order to allow consumers to use their FSAs for OTC medicines.

“As Congress considers ways to meet our nation’s healthcare needs effectively, they should work to restore an important incentive for consumers to use efficient healthcare options that save time and money,” Gay said.


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Schiff: Advertising, not BOGOs, driving joint care category sales

BY Michael Johnsen

SALT LAKE CITY — Schiff has realized some sales success reducing its reliance on promotion across the joint health category — a category that has been defined by the prevalence of buy-one, get-one deals over the past few years — the company told analysts Thursday in a discussion on fiscal 2012 third-quarter results.

"[Overall] net [third-quarter] sales grew 25% over the same period last year, driven by a 53% increase in branded sales," Schiff director, president and CEO Tarang Amin said. "Importantly, all key brands grew with contributions from our probiotic business acquired in June, new product introductions and benefits from a significant increase in advertising." During the fiscal third quarter, selling and marketing expense as a percent of net sales was 24% versus 14% last year, or about an additional $8 million, according to Amin.

Amin credited that increase in consumer advertising with growing its joint care brands despite fewer promotions at shelf. "A great example is Schiff MegaRed, which continued its rapid growth even at a 60% price premium relative to fish oil. Our MegaRed efforts also included gaining over 75,000 likes on Facebook and product sampling on the Dr. Oz show," Amin said.

That success across Schiff’s joint business is measured against one year ago, when the joint business was trending negative. Amin attributed last year’s decline to two factors — continual price discounting across the category and a lack of new product introductions. "We continue to see price discounting from some of [the] competitors," Amin said. "And it’s a bit perplexing because as we followed our strategy between advertising and product innovation, we’ve seen much stronger growth rates than the rest of the categories. So I do believe, over time, people are going to take a look at who’s actually growing share and who’s not, and that should change tactics."

Schiff currently is focused on its MegaRed joint product, a proprietary formula of krill oil and astaxanthin to promote joint health. Over the fourth quarter, Schiff will be testing a new Move Free item, which maintains and repairs cartilage, and Move Free Lean, which provides joint relief and support to leaner bodies.

In addition, Schiff is gearing up for several line extensions across its probiotic portfolio that will feature BC30 probiotics technology as a key point of differentiation.


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Natrol launches supplement line featuring gummy and fast-dissolve formats

BY Michael Johnsen

CHATSWORTH, Calif. — Natrol on Thursday announced the launch of a new line of supplements that will ship later this year.

The new line includes several existing and new vitamins and supplements in an alternative form of adult gummy vitamins and fast-dissolve tablets. For example, Carb Intercept 3 is a calorie-burning and carb-controlling capsule that helps metabolize fats for energy. Tropical Thin is a weight-control product that features a unique fruit blend of ingredients, such as coconut, raspberry ketones and African mango. Laci Le Beau fast-dissolve tablets help promote elimination of impurities and reduce belly bloat. What’s more, Natrol also has partnered with Bikram Choudhury, founder of “Bikram Yoga,” on Vedic Mantra, a complete line of 10 herbal Ayurvedic supplements formulated specifically for the Yoga enthusiast.

“We know that our customers already embrace a lifestyle of wellness that enriches the mind and body," Natrol senior director of marketing Lisa Sheppard said. "With these new products, we are both expanding our choices to a variety of multipaced daily routines, as well as opening up new options for lifestyles with specific needs."


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