HEALTH

SymphonyIRI: Consumers turn to OTCs to curb healthcare costs

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Spurred by a difficult economy, over-the-counter medications increasingly are playing a dual role for consumers looking to minimize healthcare expenditures, the SymphonyIRI Group found in a new research paper titled “Over-the-Counter Medications: State of the Industry 2010” that was released last week.

 

“The down economy has reinforced and escalated consumers’ quest for ‘the good life,’” stated Susan Sakach, SVP healthcare solutions at SymphonyIRI. “Consumers have long worked to establish and maintain wellness in order to have a high quality of life; however, today they are motivated by something else, too. Consumers are looking to stay well in order to alleviate burdensome medical expenses.”

 

 

This has prompted greater interest in self-care — more than one-third of consumers today are visiting the doctor less frequently and self-treating to save on medical expenses. Nearly all of these consumers (88%) will continue to do so even as the economy improves, SymphonyIRI found. 

 

 

This has generated a greater consumer interest in overall nutrition, for example, with 74% of consumers indicating they are trying to eat better these days. While many consumers are using nutrition to achieve a specific goal, such as losing weight or controlling a special condition, 81% of consumers indicated that they are eating better because they want to stay healthy and avoid unnecessary medical expenses.

 

 

Along with the greatest interest in overall nutrition comes an increasing awareness around supplementing a diet with vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. Two-thirds of consumers regularly use vitamins, while one-quarter and one-third of consumers take herbal supplements and omega-3s, respectively, SymphonyIRI found.

 

 

Prevention similarly is a common theme among OTC consumers. For instance, 16% of consumers indicated they take allergy medication to prevent allergies even though proactively taking allergy medication simply treats symptoms but doesn’t actually prevent an allergy. This disconnect is one example of an opportunity for allergy medication manufacturers to educate consumers about true prevention strategies, SymphonyIRI suggested.

 

 

“For many consumers, OTC medications are a tool that allows them to maintain their hectic schedules despite having a chronic condition, such as allergies, or acute ailments, such as achy muscles,” Sakach said. “OTC marketers are wise to consider this perspective when developing their communication strategy. Education provides fo another level of communication with consumers.”

 

 

SymphonyIRI is offering a free webinar called “Over-the-Counter Medications: State of the Industry 2010,” on Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. EST. Click here to register.

 

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PharmaLink gets orphan drug designation for Nefecon

BY Alaric DeArment

STOCKHOLM The Food and Drug Administration has given orphan drug designation to a treatment for a rare kidney disease under mid-stage clinical development by privately owned Swedish drug maker PharmaLink, the company said.

 

The FDA granted the designation to Nefecon (PL-56), a treatment for IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease, a disorder that leads to end-stage kidney disease. The FDA gives orphan drug designation to incentivize development of treatments for rare and serious disorders.

 

 

“Today’s news marks a significant milestone for PharmaLink and increases the commercial value of Nefecon as it moves toward the marketplace,” PharmaLink managing director Johan Haggblad said. “We believe this product candidate has great potential in treating IgA nephropathy.”

 

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Medco: Poor adherence may cause lack of response to medication

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON When a patient isn’t showing a response to a medication, a common tactic the doctor might use is to increase the dosage. According to a new study, however, the ineffectiveness might be happening because the patient isn’t properly taking the medication.

The Medco Research Institute, the research arm of pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions, found that nearly one-third of patients given increased dosages of antidepressants were not regularly taking their original prescriptions. Data from the study recently were presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s 62nd Institute on Psychiatric Services in Boston.

 

Medco said the study showed doctors should monitor a patient’s adherence to their antidepressants before raising the dosage because poor adherence may contribute to disease relapse, thus leading to unnecessary dosage increases.

 

 

“A physician usually increases a dose when a patient is not responding to the current dosage,” Medco Neuroscience Therapeutic Resource Center national practice leader and lead study author David Muzina said. “But the analysis shows that the reason the dose may not be effective is that many patients are not taking their antidepressants as directed.”

 

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