In what is normally a slow–growing category in the 0.5%-3.0% range for year–over–year performance, the internal analgesics category witnessed much stronger–than–average growth rates in 2020. Consumers stocked up on pain relievers and fever reducers to be prepared for coronavirus. The overall internal analgesics category witnessed sales growth of more than 6.0%, with the Tylenol brand up nearly 40% and Motrin IB (both by Johnson & Johnson) up nearly 100% compared to 2019 sales.
Another phenomenon was fewer in-person visits to physicians during coronavirus lockdowns and, therefore, consumers using telemedicine services more; they also self-treated aches and pains with over-the-counter internal and topical analgesics. Consumers suffering from arthritis pain had a new branded topical pain option in 2020 with the launch of Voltaren Arthritis Pain by GlaxoSmithKline, which was previously sold only via prescription and began being sold without a prescription in March 2020. This new brand added nearly $100 million in sales to the topical analgesics category; overall, the category was up by more than 12% compared to 2019. Voltaren Arthritis Pain contains diclofenac sodium, which is a topical anti-inflammatory drug and indicated for the treatment of minor arthritis pain in the hands, wrists, elbows, feet, ankles, and/or knees.
Another trend that provides an opportunity for growth in analgesics is online subscription services, such as Nurx.com, for various ailments. Nurx gives migraine sufferers access to a medical team; after completing a health and headache history, customers will get a prescription or even receive home delivery of prescription medications to treat migraine if deemed necessary. Future gains in the OTC analgesics category could be bolstered by additional switches of topical anti-inflammatory analgesics and/or triptans for migraine treatment such as GlaxoSmithKline’s Imitrex and/or Pfizer’s Relpax.
Full analyses of the migraine and topical analgesics categories and potential future switch candidates are covered in Kline’s Rx-to-OTC Switch Forecasts, published in January 2021. OTC internal and topical analgesics are tracked regularly in the Kline PULSE Consumer Healthcare subscription service. For more details about these and other Kline resources that can help your organization capitalize on growth in the pain market, contact us.