Magazine article Drug Topics

Big Internal Analgesics Category Sees Small Changes

Magazine article Drug Topics

Big Internal Analgesics Category Sees Small Changes

Article excerpt

Until McNeil began marketing Tylenol as an OTC in the mid1970s, the only analgesics available without a prescription were aspirin and aspirin compounds. The leading brands were Anacin, Bayer Aspirin, Bufferin, and Excedrin.

Acetaminophen revolutionized OTC analgesics. Customers, familiar with prescription Tylenol, willingly bought the OTC version even though it cost more than aspirin. Acetaminophen expanded the internal analgesics market and rapidly replaced aspirin as the most widely used analgesic ingredient. Tylenol still is the No. 1 brand in the internal analgesics category.

Ibuprofen also radically changed the market after its approval for OTC sale. Dollar sales in the category increased when customers switched to ibuprofen, because it costs more per dose than aspirin or acetaminophen. Advil swiftly took second place in the category, and its market share is still growing.

The Rx-to-OTC switch of naproxen sodium didn't stimulate market growth. Naproxen sodium costs less than ibuprofen, and people take fewer doses. But it did rearrange brand shares; Aleve pulled ahead of Excedrin in 1997 and now ranks third among branded internal analgesics. Ketoprofen, approved for OTC sale in 1995, has made little impact on sales or market shares.

The biggest news in internal analgesics in 1997 was growth in the children's segment-especially children's ibuprofen. Information Resources Inc. and D. P. Hamacher & Associates ranked Children's Motrin Suspension 4 oz. as the No. 1 drugstore dollar sales producer during the 52-weeks ended Oct. 12.

Tylenol Infant Drops and Bayer Aspirin Regimen Child Chewtabs also posted nice gains. The new item list reflects manufacturers' optimism about the pediatric subcategory. Eight of the 12 branded analgesics SKUs introduced in 1997 were children's products. The active ingredient in six of these SKUs is ibuprofen.

For the 52-week period ended Oct. 12, IRI reported sales of $2.7 billion for internal analgesics in drugstores, food stores, and mass-merchandising outlets.

That's a 1.8% increase compared with sales the previous year. Advances of 2% and 7.2% in food stores and massmerchandisers, respectively, were offset by a 2.7% slide in drugstore sales.

Although growth in the adult segment was minimal, private-label product sales increased 5%. According to DPH&A's Summarized Velocity Records Sorted by Dollars for the period ended Oct. 10, the most popular private-label SKU was ibuprofen 200 mg 100. By the end of 1998, private-label naproxen sodium should be making a solid contribution to store-brand assortments.

Top 10 private-label analgesics ranked by dollars are: Ibuprofen 200mg tablet 100; enteric coated 5-gr aspirin 100; ibuprofen 200-mg caplet 100; nonaspirin x/str caplet 100; nonaspirin x/str gelcap 100; adult aspirin lo/dose 120; Ibuprofen 200-mg tablet 50; nonaspirin x/str tablet 100; ibuprofen 200-mg caplet 50; and nonaspirin reg/str tablet 100

One of the biggest changes for branded products was the increased popularity of gelcaps and geltabs, compared with caplets and tablets. Among other changes, market leader Tylenol lost market shares; Bayer's share was down slightly, but sales of low-strength aspirin-Bayer Aspirin Regimen and its private-label equivalents grew; and Advil and Aleve gained market-share points. …

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