HEALTH

Thermionics sales heat up

BY DSN STAFF

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. —Thermionics’ ThermiPaq products, which now sport an eye-catching yellow “Control Your Pain!” panel as part of a new graphics package, has been a significant driver of growth within the heat/ice packs segment of late.

For the 52 weeks ended Aug. 8, Thermipaq sales were up 27.2%, reaching $6.1 million across food, drug and mass (minus Walmart) outlets, according to SymphonyIRI Group data. That growth is outpacing the category as a whole, which currently is trending up 6.1%.

In addition to rolling out a new graphics package, Thermionics has been positioning its product line against the chronic pain shopper as an incremental opportunity for retailers. According to recent Thermionics research, 80% of consumers who are treating chronic pain not only purchase multiple solutions across internal analgesics, external rubs, heat/ice therapy and body support devices, but they also shop these sets on a regular basis in search of their own personal pain-relieving regimen of products. There’s an incessant need to find a new or different solution, Thermionics noted, that’s driving consumers toward external analgesic items. That may make for an opportunity to establish a chronic-pain management destination center within the self-care space, the company added, much like there is a destination center at many retailers focused around diabetes-related products.

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New report indicates times are a-changin’ for drug market

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The drug industry is undergoing a major paradigm shift. Companies that traditionally have relied on blockbuster drugs are finding that model running dry as their biggest money-makers face competition from generics that eventually will lead to a heavily commoditized market for the disease states that have been the foundation for the model, such as high cholesterol, asthma, mental illness and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

(THE NEWS: IMS Health projects growth for Rx market. For the full story, click here)

In response, many are changing their focus to high-value specialty drugs, especially biotech drugs. For drug companies, it’s just their way of adapting to survive. But it’s also driving a shift in the world of pharmacy, feeding the growth of specialty pharmacy and, in turn, changing the role of the pharmacist in health care, all the while creating opportunities for retail pharmacies to embrace specialty pharmacy as a driver of growth as the “genericization” of pharmaceuticals threatens to dampen their sales figures.

It’s a trend that’s likely to continue. Pfizer’s acquisition of Wyeth, Merck’s acquisition of Schering-Plough, Roche’s acquisition of the remainder of Genentech and, most recently, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s acquisition of ZymoGenetics, as well as Sanofi-Aventis’ efforts to buy Genzyme, are just the largest examples of the pharma shift under way.

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Supplements with natural S-equol may reduce joint pain, hot flashes in postmenopausal women

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO A new women’s health, whole soy germ-based nutritional supplement containing natural S-equol reduced the frequency of moderate to severe hot flashes and reduced muscle and joint pain in the first study of its kind among U.S. postmenopausal women, according to peer-reviewed data presented as a poster presentation at the North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting. Also, the first study to report natural S-equol contributions to bone health and a study of natural S-equol safety were presented at NAMS.

“These data from U.S. women expand our knowledge and corroborate previous research in Japanese women about the benefit of a supplement containing the soy-based compound natural S-equol to manage menopausal symptoms, including reducing the frequency of hot flashes and muscle discomfort,” stated Belinda Jenks, co-author of the U.S. women’s and safety studies, and director of scientific affairs and nutrition education at Pharmavite. “This and the other natural S-equol studies are part of the rigorous clinical collaborative program of Pharmavite and Otsuka to develop a supplement containing natural S-equol.”

S-equol is a compound resulting from the natural metabolism of daidzein, an isoflavone found in whole soybeans. Not everyone can produce S-equol after soy consumption, as the production depends on the types of bacteria present in the large intestine and may be influenced by the amount of soy consumed. About 50% of Asians and 20% to 30% of North Americans and Europeans, who in general consume less soy than Asians, have the ability to produce S-equol. Research indicated that Japanese women have milder menopausal symptoms in those who are S-equol producers compared with nonproducers.

All of the studies presented at NAMS used supplement tablets that contained natural S-equol. The SE5-OH is the product of fermentation of whole soy germ by the bacterial strain Lactococcus 20-92. The process results in the conversion of the daidzein to S-equol. SE5-OH is created under current good manufacturing practices. Following fermentation, the bacteria undergo heat denaturation and are deactivated. The process is designed to produce a natural S-equol rich product, or nutraceutical ingredient. The ingredient has self-affirmed GRAS status.

Otsuka Pharmaceutical supported all of the studies. Complete reports of data from each study will be submitted for peer-review publication, the companies stated.

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