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Sanitizers ‘cleaning up’

BY Michael Johnsen

AKRON, Ohio — With the successful launch of Purell Advanced hand sanitizer last year, Purell Consumer has helped bring some excitement back to the category.

Sales of Purell’s core brand were up 28% to $31.1 million across total U.S. multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ended March 24, according to IRi, with Purell Advanced adding more than $10.3 million.

"[The] new formulation, TV support and [free-standing inserts] are driving shoppers back to the category," said Tim Cleary, Purell Consumer sales VP. Impulse purchases of the small sizes packaged within a jelly wrap carrier, school and small office supply dispensers and large-size containers for communal replacement are driving that conversion, he said.

Overall, sales of hand sanitizers totaled $185.7 million, up 8.3%. And while this past robust cold-and-flu season certainly helped drive those sales, it’s not the whole story. Sales of Purell reach significant seasonal spikes during the back-to-school period.

Purell Advanced also holds a point of differentiation over other brands — last year the company released results of a series of independent lab studies testing the ability of instant hand sanitizers to meet Food and Drug Administration Healthcare Personnel Handwash germ-kill requirements at various dosage levels. Purell Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer formulations contain a patent-pending blend of ingredients that maximize the impact of alcohol on bacteria while maintaining skin moisture for optimal skin health, Cleary said.

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Geritol brand looks to make a comeback

BY Michael Johnsen

MARIETTA, Ga. — Meda Consumer Healthcare is quickly developing a reputation for re-energizing iconic brands across new consumer groups. They’ve done it with Feosol. And now they’re looking to reinvent Geritol.

"Geritol is a beloved brand that has been in the market for 60-plus years and actually originally targeted stay-at-home moms in their 30s," explained Cigdem Topalli, brand manager for Geritol and Feosol at Meda Consumer.

Meda Consumer acquired Geritol from GlaxoSmithKline in 2010, and has since stabilized the business. "Because it was so iconic and there was such a loyalty to the brand, we wanted to make sure … that we fully understood the consumers’ perception of the brand before we made any changes," Topalli said. The brand still resonates with consumers, she said, but primarily among seniors. "Even though market share was low, we had [more than] 53% [brand] awareness," she said. "Many people recognize the brand today."

As part of that, Meda has conducted extensive consumer research in preparation for the product’s reintroduction later this year. "We learned that [Geritol] still stood for many positive images," she said. "[One] of the negative images that we need to overcome is this concept of being outdated." For example, liquid formulations of the Geritol supplement will be identified as a "liquid" as opposed to a "tonic," which was how consumers identified with Geritol in the 1950s.

The work will come to fruition in June when Meda Consumer re-enters a category that is already experiencing healthy growth with its recharged Geritol brand. Overall, multivitamins were up 5.2% in sales, reaching $1.6 billion across total U.S. multi-outlets, as captured by IRi for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 27.

 

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OxyContin patent expires, fears of abuse return

BY Alaric DeArment

The November 2011 expiration of Pfizer’s patent on the cholesterol drug Lipitor and Ranbaxy Labs’ release of the generic version received significant play in the media, particularly due to the theretofore status of Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) as the drug with the highest sales in the country, $7.7 billion in the United States, according to healthcare analytics firm IMS Health.

The April 16 expiration of the patent for OxyContin (oxycodone extended-release tablets) got plenty of attention as well, not because of sky-high sales — with $3 billion in sales per year, according to IMS — but because of the controversy surrounding generic versions of the drug.

Following its 1995 approval by the Food and Drug Administration, the opioid painkiller OxyContin soon became a favorite target for drug abuse, so much so that the Drug Enforcement Administration lists it as a Schedule II controlled substance. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about half a million people ages 12 years and older began abusing OxyContin in 2008. With abuse came crime, and OxyContin has been a prize frequently sought after in pharmacy robberies and other drug thefts.

In response, in April 2010, the FDA approved a new version of the drug that contained properties designed to deter abuse. Before, drug users would crush or dissolve the pills for snorting or injection, but the new version rendered the drug largely useless after tampering. Purdue stopped shipping the original version without the abuse-deterrent features in August 2010. Authorities have warned that the newer pills still have the potential for abuse, but that potential is reduced.

But with the expiration of OxyContin’s patent came renewed fears of a prescription painkiller abuse epidemic, particularly because the agency had not yet specifically said it would require generic versions of the drug to be abuse-deterrent. In January, the FDA released draft guidance for drug companies to encourage abuse-deterrent painkillers. The guidance explains the agency’s current thinking about the studies it said companies should conduct to demonstrate that a given formulation of an opioid drug has abuse-deterrent properties, how the agency would evaluate the studies and what labeling claims may be approved. But the draft guidance contained guidelines, not requirements, and that did not allay fears about the abuse potential. In a March 12 letter to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the attorneys general of 46 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Guam, urged the agency to require generic versions of OxyContin to carry the same features as the branded version.

Finally, the same day OxyContin’s patent expired, the FDA announced that it would not approve any generic version of the drug that did not also contain abuse-deterrent features. Still, the new requirement had the effect of blocking generic versions of the drug from immediately becoming available. The Generic Pharmaceutical Association, a trade group representing generic drug makers, emphasized what it called the importance of balancing patient access to medicine with efforts to minimize abuse.

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