HEALTH

Reckitt Benckiser debuts two products in European markets

BY Michael Johnsen

SLOUGH, England As a possible taste as to what innovation Reckitt Benckiser will bring to the U.S. market with its Boots Healthcare brands, Reckitt last week announced the launch of two healthcare products to be introduced into its European markets.

The first is a convenience version of its liquid heartburn reliever Gaviscon—Gaviscon Liquid Sachets. “Consumers genuinely think that the liquid is better than the tabs … but normally when you’re on the go they typically use tablets,” commented Bart Becht, Reckitt Benckiser chief executive officer, in a conference call with analysts last week. “They would like to use the liquid but they can’t because that is not an on-the-go format. … So what we’re providing is liquid sachets,” he said, where a consumer can tear off the top of the pouch and drink one dose. “That’s going to market as we speak.”

The second product launch is a fast-acting ibuprofen pain reliever Nurofen Express. “Nurofen Express is already launched in the U.K. and is now going to get gradually rolled-out to markets,” Becht said. “Clearly there’s a regulatory process so this will take several years just to be clear before it will be fully rolled-out … [but] this product provides the pain relief twice as fast as standard ibuprofen products.”

Reckitt Benckiser executives have not yet confirmed that they will launch their entire platform of Boots Healthcare products into the U.S. market—it’s too soon following the acquisition of Adams Respiratory, they’ve said—but the fact that Adams affords Reckitt Benckiser an established entry into the U.S. healthcare market was one of the selling points in acquiring Adams, Becht explained. “What’s the benefit [of the Adams acquisition]? It clearly provides a healthcare infrastructure in the U.S. which is the largest consumer healthcare market in the world. … It was very strategic for us as a company because it’s one of the few targets that allows us to get a healthcare infrastructure in the U.S., which we don’t have. And to build that organically is extremely difficult and costly.”

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Noninvasive electromagnetic glucose monitor in development

BY Michael Johnsen

WACO, Texas A Baylor University researcher is currently developing an electromagnetic sensor that could provide diabetics a noninvasive alternative to reading their blood glucose levels, and new research shows the sensor works and is effective, Baylor University announced Monday.

“We are definitely excited,” stated Randall Jean, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Baylor. “This is a relatively new area the market is exploring and we’ve demonstrated that using microwave energy can work.”

The sensor uses electromagnetic waves to measure blood glucose levels in the body. As the energy goes from the sensor through the skin and back to the sensor, the glucose level is measured through the transference of energy. Jean said the microwave frequency range is wide enough to isolate the effect of sugar in the blood and minimize the characteristics of other things like body fat and bone, which could alter accurate readings. Jean also said using electromagnetic waves is relatively safe because they do not ionize the body’s molecules like x-rays can do.

To measure glucose levels, users must press their thumb against the sensor, and a new study by the Baylor researchers shows that the sensor is accurate. Researchers took samples of nearly 20 people and compared those samples to levels measured by an over-the-counter commercial sensor. The researchers found Baylor’s noninvasive sensor has the potential of achieving the same or even better accuracy than current commercial sensors, many of which prick the finger to sample blood.

“The sensor passed its first simple quantitative test,” Jean said. “It can provide useful information to help the user decide what course of action they should take.”

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Sergeant’s Pet Care acquires Virbac Corp.

BY Michael Johnsen

OMAHA, Neb. Sergeant’s Pet Care Products last week acquired Virbac Corporation, a veterinary pharmaceutical company with brands that include WormXPlus and WormX.

“WormXPlus is the first generic version of the No. 1 broad-spectrum wormer in the veterinary channel,” stated Bob Scharf, president and chief executive officer of Sergeant’s Pet Care Products. “With this product we are able to provide a veterinary quality product that treats and prevents round, hook and tapeworms while saving pet owners valuable time and money.”

WormXPlus is comparable to the veterinary brand Drontal, a well-known broad spectrum wormer marketed by Bayer to the veterinary channel, he said.

Additional acquired products include Petrodex, home dental care products proven to help reduce plaque and tartar accumulation in dogs and cats; Zema, pesticides used to treat the home, pets, house and yard for fleas and ticks; and Mardel, a brand of medications for fish, water treatments and conditioners as well as a variety of test kits.

Retailers in the grocery, mass, drug and dollar channels, can look forward to seeing many of these formulations being marketed under the Sergeant’s and Vetscriptions brands, Scharf said. 

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