Remedies to the Rescue

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | March 4, 2011

They may be less sexy than their anti-aging counterparts, but OTC and medicated personal care products address a range of maladies that affect consumers' skin, how they feel and their self-esteem.

Over-the-counter (OTC) and medicated skin care products address a wide range of issues ranging from minor scrapes, calluses and diaper rash to mood-altering maladies like acne, cold sores and chronic pain. Although they are more utilitarian in nature than say, a luxury skin créme, these formulations often ascend to “must-have” status with consumers. Crow’s feet and age spots take time to develop, but other problems—a pimple before prom or a raging diaper rash—seem to catch people off guard, and call for a quick trip to the local pharmacy in search of a remedy that works fast.

New Clearasil Ultra Acne+Marks Wash/Mask contains areaumat extracts, said to soothe redness.

When consumers get there, they often gravitate to venerable brands and companies they trust—the stalwarts like Neosporin to treat a cut, Desitin for diaper rash, Cortizone 10 for itchy skin, Clearasil for acne breakouts and Abreva for cold sores.

But private label packs a powerful punch, especially when consumers are operating on tighter budgets. In fact, industry observers have pointed to an overarching trend across the OTC/medicated skin care market in which private label products are eating away at branded products’ share.

“As consumers are more cost-conscious, they are trusting private label products more than they did in the past,” said Laura Mahecha, industry manager, healthcare at Kline & Co., Little Falls, NJ.

According to data from SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm, sales of first aid ointment/antiseptics topped $466 million for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 28, 2010 in supermarkets, drug stores and mass outlets, excluding Walmart, with private label leading the way at $211.23 million.
There’s a similar story in the $325 million anti-itch treatment sector (see chart). Private label, at more than $89 million, trumps a distant second place Cortizone 10 at $43.9 million, according to SymphonyIRI.

Yet, while private label products sit atop some sectors, there are situations where branded products remain the category leaders.

“Pediatric products in general are somewhat more insulated from private label competition because parents may be skeptical to use private label products on babies and kids,” Mahecha told Happi.

The Stopain franchise is now owned by Troy Healthcare LLC.
Spend a Buck
When it comes to caring for their children’s skin ailments, most new parents look to tried-and-true solutions from brands they recognize. That bodes well for companies with larger marketing budgets and those that pediatricians talk up during office visits.

“With the turn of the new year, Desitin brand continues to be the No. 1 choice of pediatricians and moms,” said Ivy Brown, group brand director, Johnson’s Baby and Desitin brands, who pointed out that the brand has the “largest dollar share of the diaper rash segment and continues to drive overall segment growth.”

While “left over cost-consciousness” has benefitted lower priced brands and private label, Mahecha said,“consumers are receptive to buying brands, if there are compelling reasons to buy them.”

Industry trackers say there’s often a direct correlation between increased ad spending and coupon drops and sales gains in the OTC/medicated market.

Johnson & Johnson keeps the Desitin name fresh in the minds of über-caring moms and dads, spending some $2 million on advertising (excluding internet and spot TV spending) in the first half of 2010, according to The Nielsen Company.

The Desitin franchise—which includes a Rapid Relief Cream with 13% zinc oxide, a clear multi-purpose format designed to be used all over the body, and Maximum Strength Original Paste—is welcoming another addition: Desitin Soothing Rash Bath Treatment. Due out in June, it is designed to soothe irritated skin with a formulation that combines colloidal oatmeal with aloe and vitamin E.

The Desitin franchise is expecting…a new Soothing Rash Bath Treatment.
J&J employs a similar strategy in the antibiotic/first aid category. Through the first half of 2010, the firm spent more than $10 million on advertising (excluding internet and spot TV spending) across its Neosporin platform and has updated the venerable franchise with new items like Neo to Go, and more recently, lipcare SKUs.

“Despite the fact that Neosporin is exactly the same as the store brand, it still has the lion’s share of the market,” said Kline’s Mahecha. “It is an old brand, but they have created something new to talk about with consumers.”

Here’s the Rub
Just as it moved Desitin and Neosporin into new areas like bath and lip care, J&J has also pushed Tylenol into new territory—pain-relieving heat patches and a topical cream that address everything from backaches to headache to sprains to bruises.

Tylenol Precise, which unfortunately rolled out during last year’s rash of Tylenol and other McNeil brand recalls, is taking on established heat patch/wrap products like Thermacare and rubs including market-leading Icy Hot (now part of the Sanofi stable via its acquisition of Chattem), Ben Gay and Aspercreme.

But other brands are fighting for share, including a “newcomer” in Troy Healthcare LLC, a Hazelton, PA company, which recently acquired the Stopain brand from DRJ Group.

According to SymphonyIRI data, Stopain tallied sales of $5.6 million last year in mass outlets, drug stores and food stores (excluding Walmart). Although sales were up nearly 7.5% and units jumped 8.5%, Troy officials contend there was money left on the table.

“The former company didn’t really have the wherewithal to take the brand where it could be. We saw the growth and loyalty in the marketplace as a great opportunity for us,” Anthony J. Cicini, director of sales and marketing told Happi.

He should know; Troy Healthcare is a subsidiary of Troy Manufacturing Inc., which has manufactured Stopain since 2002.

The range—which was among the first topical pain relievers to go “hands-free” with spray delivery and roll-on applicators—has carved out a niche with arthritis and chronic pain sufferers and has been a supporter of the Arthritis Foundation, donating a portion of each purchase to the organization since 2009.

Since closing the deal in January, Troy has already revamped Stopain’s packaging and has expanded the line by introducing a new, non-greasy gel format. The new gel is scheduled to hit the shelves in all 7,000-plus Walgreen’s stores next month. The Stopain Pain Relieving Gel is said to contain 38% more menthol than any other product in the cooling gel category.

Cicini sees a bright future for the entire topical analgesic category.

“There is a trend to pain relief without pills. As the American public gets more educated, they don’t want to take pills and they are looking at ingredients,” he said, boasting Stopain’s “made in America” claims—from the ingredients and manufacturing process to the packaging it comes in.“We are one of the only brands that is in control of the entire process.”

To generate more buzz about Stopain, Troy is ramping up a new social media campaign, which will complement other marketing efforts, including spot TV ads, check-out coupons via Catalina Marketing, print and trade publications.

The goal, according to Cicini, is to get consumers to try the brand; the formulation’s effectiveness will take it from there.

“With Stopain, you need to drive trial—our repeat purchase is extremely good. They may try other brands, but when they come into the Stopain franchise, they stay,” he insisted.

New from Pierre Fabre is Glytone Acne 3P Gel.
Acne Is Big Business
Perhaps nowhere in the OTC/medicated skin care market is the competition more heated than in the acne category. With options available from the dermatologist’s office, the local pharmacy, swank beauty stores, TV and internet, consumers have a plethora of treatments to pick from and multiple outlets in which to shop.

Faced with steep competition, leading acne brands offer a mix of single-treatment type SKUs and complete regimens—and rely on savvy marketing campaigns designed to attract their core consumers.

For Clearasil, that means teen-focused endeavors that utilize TV outlets and social media tools. Most recently, the Reckitt brand forged a partnership with MTV on the “Make the Clear Choice” campaign, which raises awareness and educates teens and young adults about important issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, sexual health and self-esteem.

The promotion included a new“Make the Clear Choice” PSA featuring Suchin Pak, which premiered on MTV’s “10 Spot,” and a charity component utilizing its U.S. Facebook page.

Product wise, Clearasil is rolling out a new line designed to get a “head start” on clear skin by accelerating the disappearance of the marks that come with acne. The range includes two SKUs: Clearasil Ultra Acne+Marks Spot Lotion and Clearasil Ultra Acne+Marks Wash/Mask.

The lotion, ideal for spot treatment, works to help clear acne and reduce the appearance of visible marks via 2% salicylic acid, niacinamide and licorice root extract. The double-duty wash/mask contains areaumat extracts, said to soothe redness.

ClickR Skin Care, a new skin line stocked at Sephora, is also targeting teenagers, evidenced by its decision to enlist Cam Gigandet of “Twilight” fame as its celebrity spokesperson. The actor will promote ClickR’s complete range, including acne-focused collections called No More Derma Drama and Figure It Out, both of which boast benzoyl peroxide-free formulations.

But far and away, the acne line with the biggest celebrity following is Proactiv. And while Guthy-Renker LLC benefits from celebrity endorsements, YouTube videos and Tweets from Jessica Simpson, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, company officials say Proactiv’s success stems from the effectiveness of the formulation created by Drs. Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields.

“The true reason behind Proactiv’s success is that it works,” Kimber Maderazzo, senior vice president of product marketing, told Happi. “If it didn’t work, it wouldn’t have continued to grow and get new customers for 16 years.”

But even a great formulation can be improved. Last year, Guthy-Renker quietly rolled out a modified formulation featuring an exclusive micro-crystal pharmaceutical-grade benzoyl peroxide, which is said to work faster and be gentler on the skin, according to Maderazzo.

Micronization is also the story at Stiefel, maker of the MaxClarity Acne Management System. This OTC range boasts Versafoam technology and acne fighting ingredients benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

“With Versafoam, the particles of these two acne fighting ingredients are micronized before the foam is created so they absorb quickly and effectively into your skin,” said Jonathan Commons, director of global integrated communications for Stiefel, a GSK company. “MaxClarity Foam is absorbed immediately, delivering micro-particles that go right to work to clear up acne.”

BPO in the Spotlight
Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) is just one of a number of go-to ingredients when it comes to acne solutions. For 2011, leading R&D teams appear to be targeting new ways to enhance the effectiveness of this workhorse ingredient.

In May, Stiefel will ship two new BPO acne wash formulations for the OTC market that feature a patented delivery system including dimethyl isosorbide (DMI) which solubilizes BPO and greatly reduces particulate-based skin irritation and inflammation they say users commonly experience with conventional BPO formulations. New PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash 4% BPO and 8% BPO boast thick, creamy formulations and are said to provide excellent efficacy and rapid reduction in acne lesions.

BPO is also the talk at professional skin care companies that sell products through dermatologists’ offices.

Jan Marini Skin Research (JMSR) recently unveiled new topical anti-aging and acne control technologies. Age Intervention Duality and Age Intervention Duality MD feature a dual-chamber dispensing system that combines anti-aging peptides and antioxidants with retinol and BPO in efficacious and stable concentrations.

Age Intervention Duality will be sold in the professionally dispensed skin care market, while Age Intervention Duality MD, which includes a higher concentration of retinol, will be marketed through physician offices.

La Roche-Posay, another brand with “derm-credibility,” has also put the spotlight on BPO, combining micronized benzoyl peroxide (5.5%) and lipo hydroxy acid (0.4%) in new Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment, an OTC dual action acne treatment that is said to significantly reduce inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne and is clinically proven as effective as the leading acne prescription.

Peter Foltis, director-scientific affairs, skin care at L’Oréal USA, addressed issues associated with BPO and the science behind Effaclar.
According to Foltis, a main difficulty for formulators is to triturate BPO to an acceptable particle size.

The reason for triturating is two-fold. “The first,” he said, “is to increase surface area to allow for dissolution. Once is solution, BPO can penetrate into the follicle, which contributes to efficacy. The second purpose is to improve tolerance. With a uniform dispersion of BPO, you improve tolerance by preventing high local concentrations of BPO on already inflamed skin. This prevents ‘hot spots’ from occurring.”

Incorporating LHA allows Effaclar to address a main clinical feature of acne—hyperkeratinization of the follicle, according to Foltis.

“LHA has been demonstrated in vitro to exfoliate more than salicylic acid itself, in fact six times more,” he said.

Executives at Pierre Fabre’s Glytone brand are touting their own “breakthrough technology” in new Glytone Acne 3P Gel, which features a low concentration (5%) of micronized BPO and a 1% polyolprepolymer.

“The polyolprepolymer technology is a patent-pending delivery system which allows for optimal efficacy together with the fact that there is no irritation. This is what sets the product apart from every other BPO OTC product on the market,” said Maureen Iannucci, Glytone product development manager.

According to Iannucci, 3P’s patent-pending technology forms a matrix that provides a reservoir gradient for time-released, targeted delivery of BPO to the epidermis—the site where P.acnes bacteria colonize.
“This technology holds the actives within the epidermis and allows the micronized BPO to diffuse into the skin over time,” she said.

Always A Need …and a New Customer
According to data from Mintel, after back-to-back years of flat performance, sales of acne treatments are projected to rise from $369 million in 2009 to $417 million by 2014, most likely fueled by the recovering economy and the fact that a clear complexion is always in vogue.

And let’s not forget about a steady stream of new customers. Tomorrow morning, hundreds of ‘tweens will wake up to their first pimple.

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