ITC declines to take up Amarin case asking to prohibit importation of fish oils
WASHINGTON — One pharma company's attempt to shut down the import and use of fish oils in dietary supplements was halted earlier this week when the U.S. International Trade Commission declined to pursue the matter further.
Aimed at protecting its proprietary Vascepa (icosapent ethyl), Amarin filed an action with the ITC seeking a ban on the importation of omega-3 dietary supplements that are mainly comprised of the ester form of omega-3 called EPA.
Amarin requested that ITC issue a general exclusion order prohibiting the importation of the fish oils, claiming the unregulated offerings represent "injurious unfair competition" to Vascepa, which was approved by the FDA in July 2012 to reduce triglyceride levels in people with severely elevated levels of triglycerides.
"Amarin's complaint does not allege an unfair method of competition or an unfair act … as required by the statute and the Commission's rules," Lisa Barton, secretary to the commission, wrote in a letter to the complainants earlier this week. Barton also noted that regulating the importation of fish oil supplements more appropriately falls under the perview of the Food and Drug Administration.
"This decision is a victory not only for legitimate manufacturers that sell legal fish oil supplements, but for consumers depending on accessible, affordable products that benefit their health and well-being," noted Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition. "Individual companies, industry trade associations and bipartisan voices from Capitol Hill maintained a strong, united presence on the front lines of opposition efforts, and we are pleased to see the proper jurisdiction of FDA respected and maintained.”
Supplement use is at an all-time high, CRN says
WASHINGTON — The latest results from an annual survey on dietary supplements revealed an all-time high for supplement usage among U.S. adults, with 76% reporting they consumed dietary supplements, up five percentage points from last year’s results.
“These findings reinforce the upward trend in usage and confidence seen last year,” stated Nancy Weindruch, VP communications, Council for Responsible Nutrition. “Seeing more than three quarters of Americans taking supplements is an indicator of our industry’s success in bringing products to the marketplace that are valued by the majority of Americans for their role in health and wellness.”
The survey also found that nearly 87% U.S. adults have confidence in the safety, quality and effectiveness of dietary supplements overall. Additionally, 76% of U.S. adults perceive the dietary supplement industry as trustworthy, up three percentage points from last year.
In terms of the types of supplements being taken, the survey found that vitamins/minerals are the most commonly consumed supplement category, consistent with the previous surveys, with 75% of U.S. adults saying they have taken these in the past twelve months. The second most popular category is specialty supplements (38%), followed by herbals/botanicals (29%), sports nutrition supplements (22%) and weight management supplements (15%).
Overall health/wellness benefits is the main reason cited by supplement users for taking dietary supplements (46%). Three in ten consume supplements to fill nutrient gaps in their diet and similar proportions (28%) use them for energy.
Of those who do not take dietary supplements, nearly half (45%) say they might consider taking supplements in the future if a doctor recommended it to them.
In its eighteenth consecutive year, the CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements serves as the leading resource for statistics on usage of and confidence in dietary supplements. The survey was conducted Aug. 24–28 by Ipsos Public Affairs and was funded by CRN.
10 Truths of OTC No. 5: The customer journey is in continual flux
Truth 5: The customer journey is in continual flux
How consumers buy healthcare products is ever more complicated, with on- and offline channels proliferating. Traditional OTC thinking envisages consumers making purchase decisions at physical points of sale, but this reality is eroding.
Offline still dominates, but online is growing fast. BI Intelligence suggests that online sales made up just 7% of the U.S.'s health and personal care market in 2015, but will grow by 13% CAGR by 2020. In the U.K., 12% of respondents purchased medicine online in 2016, more than doubling from 5% in 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Other online disruptors include direct-to-consumer offerings from niche and independent OTC brands not sold at physical retailers and convenience-led subscription box companies, particularly in the fast-growing VMS category. Hello Day offers a personalized, seasonal supplement box in the U.K.
It’s not hard to see how health subscription boxes might be co-opted, extended and personalized by big online health retailers like Walgreens/Boots, DocMorris and CVS to suit various consumer types and their needs. But the million-dollar question is: Which brands get to be in the boxes?
And who can forget online retail behemoth Amazon? Its Dash button already allows consumers to repeat order healthcare brands including Mucinex, Estroven and Ensure. And it recently launched its own private label supplements brand called Elements.
Further competition and complexity comes from new offline wellbeing distribution channels like gyms, yoga centers and multi-level marketing companies like Forever Living.
Even as sales channels proliferate, the ongoing role of HCPs cannot be underestimated. Accent Health’s report "The Value of Physicians in the OTC Marketplace" found that 65% of consumers said they act directly on doctor’s OTC product recommendations. But in the same study “physicians report limited availability of OTC samples, with only 49% indicating they have OTC samples on hand.” P&G, RB and McNeil have dedicated HCP engagement websites for their healthcare brands, but many don’t – a real missed opportunity.
Pharmacy isn’t resting on its laurels against the online challenge. Many chains integrate their on- and offline offerings into a true omnichannel customer journey. In the U.K, Lloyds Pharmacy’s Perfect Prescription service enables click and collect for Rx and OTC purchases – customers may buy a particular branded product once and then automatically stick to it in perpetuity, unless something truly disruptive happens.
Expanded pharmacy services are also emerging in many markets, including vaccinations and screening facilities for blood disorders, cardio-vascular problems and early-stage diabetes. By the end of 2017, Accenture projects there will be more than 2,800 retail clinics in the U.S., a 47% increase since 2014. This, combined with a squeeze on frontline healthcare budgets, means pharmacists remain key influencers of OTC product choice. Large chains like Walgreens focus on their own private labels, another threat to branded products.
It’s clear that the point of purchase moments – where OTC brands can stand out and influence the consumer decision – are ever-changing. What’s also clear is that OTC brands must adapt to this complexity and engage in a language and manner that suits every touchpoint in the customer journey. If they don’t, something else will certainly replace them.
Over the last 20 years, DewGibbons + Partners has helped design some of the world’s most iconic and successful OTC brands, resulting in a deep appreciation of the visual and physical cues — and regulatory limitations — in the self-care and OTC marketplace. The need to challenge those cues and limits is becoming far more frequent.
This is the fifth truth in a 10-part series from Sara Jones and Nick Vaus of DewGibbons + Partners, which has worked for the last 20 years to help design iconic and successful OTC brands. The series, “10 Uncomfortable Truths that OTC has to deal with to survive and thrive in the 21st century,” will publish weekly and feature in the DSN Health and Wellness newsletter every week.
The first truth was recognizing there’s a problem in the first place.
The second truth unveiled that OTC medicines are more often in the brand-building business as opposed to the pharmaceutical business.
The third truth spoke to the duality of technology, the pace of technological advances may leave some OTC brands behind even as those same advances are seized as opportunities by new brands.
The fourth truth addressed the evolution of OTC offerings from acute sick-care to preventative health and wellness solutions, mirroring a health system that's becoming more outcomes focused.
Next week's truth concerns placing a focus on the end-user in OTC product development initiatives.
Partner and client services director, DewGibbons + Partners
Sara runs DewGibbons + Partners alongside NickVaus, and heads up the client services team, leading branding and communications programmes for household names in OTC and health care. She’s always had a bit of a secret passion for OTC branding. Her Grandma was a pharmacist in London’s West End, leaving her with an abiding curiosity about active ingredients and how medicines work. She’s (in)famous for reading patient information leaflets cover to cover. Email her, follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.
Partner and creative director, DewGibbons + Partners
As well as running the agency with Sara Jones, Nick leads the studio in providing solutions that are innovative, creative, economic, and effective. Powered by Beautiful Thinking – a unique combination of right and left brain thinking that seamlessly binds together strategy, design and brand communications – he ensures that his clients’ businesses, brands and consumers are at the heart of each and every brief. Email him, follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.