Natural goes mainstream

BY Michael Johnsen

While the term homeopathy may remain as foreign to the American consumer as allopathy, as a relative “class” within each of the respective categories where homeopathic remedies exist, more and more shoppers are placing those homeopathic products in their baskets.

According to a survey conducted by the market research firm Kline, the usage and perception of what Kline couches as “natural OTCs” — which includes digestive solutions like probiotics — revealed that more than 45% of consumers consider natural OTCs effective, and more than 40% believe that natural OTCs may be safer or have fewer side effects than
traditional OTCs.

Kline expects that sales of OTC “natural” products will eclipse $750 million by 2016.

One of the faster-growing categories — not only across homeopathy, but also in general — is sleep, noted Les Hamilton, VP sales for Hyland’s. The sleep category used to include only diphenhydramine formulations and the occasional melatonin, Hamilton said. But now that category is popping.

“This whole section has grown from half a dozen SKUs to 20-plus that really are meaningful within the category,” he said. Hyland’s currently fields the No. 10 sleep brand overall and leading homeopathic remedy in that space, Calms Forte.

However, across many retailers, sleep solutions are merchandised synergistically alongside analgesics across the bottom of the shelf. Bringing the category closer to eye level could drive additional sales.

“[One retailer] has pulled it off of the base and merchandised [sleep] together with allopathic and homeopathic medicines on one shelf,” Hamilton said, noting that there’s been a lift. “As retailers are trying to drive the consumer to this very profitable category, they really need to look and focus on merchandising it in a place where it’s going to catch the eye of the consumer.”

Business opportunities vary across product categories, noted Laura Mahecha, industry manager at Kline’s Healthcare practice. “For instance, while cough and cold preparations are expected to grow at a rate of only 5% to reach $320.9 billion in 2016, it is anticipated that sleeping aids will grow by about 18% per year to reach $54 million in 2016 from $23.5 million reported in 2011,” she said. “Growth in natural OTCs will be dependent on whether consumers continue to find them effective and safe.”

Looking forward, external analgesics containing arnica may become another growth driver Hamilton suggested. “You’re going to see the leg cramps and the arnica really come full force in the next 12 months,” he said. Menthol rubs are common across the category, he added, and the homeopathic external analgesic solutions could supply some “newness” to the category. “Arnica is a newer ingredient to the food, drug [and] mass arena that really does work,” he said. “Not only does it reduce the swelling and pain, [but] arnica also reduces bruising.”

Other categories experiencing growth by way of homeopathy include baby and kids cough-cold. Within cough-cold, a lot of the success of homeopathic solutions can be traced to the Food and Drug Administration meetings questioning the safety and efficacy of monographed allopathic medicines being administered to children in 2007. Following that, kids’ cough-cold sets were made up of single-ingredient allopathic medicines indicated for children over the age of 4 years and homeopathic medicines indicated for children over the age of 2 years. 


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


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Raising the ‘steaks’ on quality care

BY Rob Eder

Recently, I had a brief conversation with a man I admire and respect very much, regarding the cover story of the Oct. 15 issue of DSN, “Building the ACO.”

“Eder, what’s an ACO?” the man asked.

I explained that it stands for accountable care organization; basically, it means providers from different practice settings working together to spread primary care responsibility across an integrated healthcare team. 

“You think that’s good?”

It’s about lowering cost, improving care and realigning incentives so people ultimately live healthier, I said. In the not-so-distant future, providers across all practices will be measured and compensated based on their ability to improve patient outcomes. 

“Just what we need — the government deciding how to pay doctors.”

But it’s not the government, I explained; providers are making those decisions right now. Quality care initiatives are taking place across every sector of health care, including the Pharmacy Quality Alliance, which is working to define what quality patient care looks like in that setting. Medication adherence will be a critical measure that will determine how pharmacies are paid.

I explained the star ratings that would replace our fee-for-service system. Think of it like picking a restaurant. If I want to go to dinner, I can go to Zagat or Yelp, or any of a number of websites that will tell me where to get the best steak in town. I know if I go there, I’m going to get a great meal, and I also can expect to pay more for it. That’s not socialism. Socialism would be if all restaurants had to charge the same price regardless of the food, service, decor, etc. — where a great chef made as much as a chef that made you sick.

Why should health care be any different?

Rob Eder is the editor in chief of The Drug Store News Group, publishers of Drug Store News, DSN Collaborative Care, and Specialty Pharmacy magazines. You can contact him at [email protected].



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Consumers using more OTCs for cost savings


As many as 26% of consumers increased their usage of over-the-counter products in the past year, according to an online survey of more than 900 AccentHealth viewers conducted in September. Anticipated increases in OTC use for the upcoming year are driven by those who have already reported a rise in usage in the past year.

To see more Patient Views, click here.

The lower cost of OTCs was cited as the primary reason viewers have increased and plan to increase their OTC usage. 

“Year over year, viewers appear to be getting more cost-conscious,” said Natalie Hill, Accent-Health VP market research, noting that 39% of viewers suggested that lower costs associated with OTC medicines would drive increased usage in the coming year, as compared with 29% who cited cost as the main driver behind increased OTC use in the past year. 

One-in-5 respondents expect any increase in OTC usage will be related to aging. Consumers younger than 55 years were the drivers behind increased OTC usage through 2012. Insurance coverage is another significant factor that is driving increased OTC utilization — 67% of respondents switched to an OTC once insurance coverage was suspended for a prescription formulation. 

In the Jan. 14 issue of DSN, Patient Views will look at how consumers choose OTC products and the influencers that shape those decisions.

Patient Views is a new, exclusive consumer insights feature that appears in every edition of DSN magazine and in the daily e-newsletter DSN A.M. If you could ask 4,000 patients anything, what would it be? Send your questions to [email protected]


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