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Hydroxycut adds new products to weight-loss line

BY Michael Johnsen

The manufacturer behind the diet-aid supplement Hydroxycut, Iovate Health Sciences International, recently introduced two new formats to its popular weight-loss franchise: Pro Clinical Hydroxycut Sprinkles and Pro Clinical Hydroxycut Gummies. The first represents a diet aid that is sprinkled on a diet-friendly food, such as a salad, that helps boost weight loss, and the second capitalizes on another booming trend in the supplement space — adult vitamins in gummy form.

Iovate certainly is doing something right. Collectively, the Hydroxycut brand holds four spots on the top 10 best-selling diet-aid tablets, bringing in $22.3 million in diet-aid sales leading into summer. The other leading diet-aid brand, a resurging Alli from GlaxoSmithKline, generated $13.5 million in sales for the 12 weeks ended May 19 across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI data. Overall, the diet-aid category is trending up 34.6% to $135.3 million.

The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Diet Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.

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Nutrisystem gains customers via Walmart

BY Michael Johnsen

The mail-order meal-replacement program Nutrisystem has been making headway into the retail market through its expanding distribution agreement with Walmart. Nutrisystem last month announced that because of growing consumer demand for its Nutrisystem D 5-Day Jumpstart Weight Loss Kit, the company will expand distribution into 3,700 Walmart stores from 2,000 by the end of June.

Meal-replacement solutions have been trending well in the past quarter, according to IRI figures. For the 12 weeks ended May 19 across total U.S. multi-outlets, sales of meal-replacement bars were up 10.7% to $470 million.

The kit includes five breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners. Nutrisystem foods are intended to be combined with such fresh grocery additions as low-fat yogurt, salad, fruit and vegetables, and could represent a repeat trip with a built-in market basket opportunity for those consumers looking for a short-term meal replacement solution versus Nutrisystem’s subscription meal program.

This isn’t the first time Nutrisystem has tried to crack the retail code with its meal-replacement offering. The company launched a retail product across more than 2,000 Kroger shelves last year that generated somewhat less fanfare — but the company may have found a niche with weight management. "Kroger itself was not a bad channel for us to be in," Zier said. "The issue is that we won some market in Kroger with the wrong product, [a weight-maintenance solution], whereas we’re obviously finding our strength in the weight-loss kit [at Walmart]."

Nutrisystem launched its 5-Day Jumpstart Weight Loss Kit exclusively at Walmart April 22. "[This] represents a significant departure from our traditional 28-day program," said Nutrisystem CEO Dawn Zier. "We are experiencing very positive results from our Walmart retail lines that expanded our footprint in their stores. We’re seeing repeat business at Walmart, as well as multiple kit purchases, indicating that customers are seeing good results. … We expect to have additional product and kit to launch in retail for the 2014 diet season."

The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Diet Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.

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Rare diseases burden patients, caregivers

BY DSN STAFF

For those suffering from heart or lung disease, cancer, systemic infections or other all-too-common conditions, the science of medicine has made extraordinary advances over the past few decades. But millions of patients afflicted with an uncommon and little-understood disorder often are consigned to the far margins of medical care, in many cases, for years.

More often than not, patients suffering from a rare disease face a years-long odyssey of misread diagnoses, visits to different doctors and severe economic and emotional strain before their condition is properly diagnosed and effectively treated. That’s the conclusion reached by researchers and unveiled in a report presented at the World Orphan Drug Congress in April in Washington.

Based on a survey of more than 1,000 American and British patients with rare conditions and their caregivers, physicians and health plan payers, the Rare Disease Impact Report "for the first time, identifies and quantifies the psychosocial and economic impact of rare diseases," according to its sponsor, Shire. And that impact, say the report’s authors, can be devastating.

"According to patients surveyed, it takes on average 7.6 years in the United States [and] on average 5.6 years in the United Kingdom for a patient with a rare disease to receive a proper diagnosis," noted the report. What’s more, researchers reported, "in order to get a proper diagnosis, a patient typically visits up to eight physicians," including four primary care doctors and four specialists.

The rare nature of many uncommon conditions masks the impact they have when looked at as a whole, noted Nicole Boice, CEO of Global Genes RARE Project, a patient advocacy organization that participated in the research project. "While individual rare diseases are uncommon and disparate, there are 7,000 rare diseases that affect more than 350 million people worldwide," she pointed out.

Among the survey’s specific findings:

  • Doctors, patients and caregivers are plagued by a "lack of resources and information to address rare diseases" in both the United States and United Kingdom. In the United States, nearly all physicians surveyed said treating and diagnosing a rare condition was difficult and required multiple office visits. And roughly half of physicians said that "medical professional organizations do not give enough attention to rare diseases." What’s more, both primary care physicians and specialists said they often don’t have the time to diagnose and treat such diseases;
  • Diagnosing and managing a rare condition can wreak havoc on a patient’s finances, particularly in the United States, with its lack of national health coverage. "Although 90% of patients surveyed reported they had health coverage in the United States," noted the report, "55% of U.S. respondents incurred direct medical expenses not covered by insurance, compared with 18% of respondents in the United Kingdom not covered by the National Health Service." And 37% of respondents, noted the authors, "borrowed money from family and/or friends to pay for expenses in the United States, compared with only 21% of respondents in the United Kingdom." Result: "The long road, which frequently includes numerous tests and physician visits, can become financially overwhelming, particularly for those in the United States," the report stated; and
  • Rare diseases take "a major emotional toll on patients/caregivers," researchers reported, "particularly for those where the hope of treatment is minimal." Indeed, U.S. physicians told researchers that 75% of their patients with rare conditions suffered from depression, and 86% showed symptoms of anxiety and stress. Feelings of isolation from family and friends afflicted 65% of those patients, according to the physicians polled.

The lack of readily available information about little-known conditions also means that "patients and caregivers … must wear many hats" as their own disease researchers, care coordinators and advocates, according to the report. Two-thirds of the U.S. patients surveyed (67%) told surveyors they had to provide health professionals with their own information on their rare condition.

For more information on the research, go to RareDiseaseImpact.com.

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