Cold comforts

With winter just around the corner, what can pharmacists expect this season? We look at the latest OTC developments

Consumer research for Stérimar from June 2017 shows that consumers spend an average of 4.7 minutes looking for a winter remedy to suit their needs. During this process, 36% of shoppers consider the ease of use of the product, speed of relief and how trustworthy the product appears to be.

When it comes to nasal congestion, the recent MHRA reclassification of Otrivine Extra Dual Relief Nasal Spray Solution from prescription only (POM) to pharmacy (P) is bonus for community pharmacists this winter. Otrivine Extra Dual Relief is manufactured for treating nasal congestion and rhinorrhoea from colds in adults aged 18 years and over. It contains the active ingredients ipratropium bromide (0.6mg/ml) and xylometazoline hydrochloride (0.5mg/ ml).

John Smith, CEO of the PAGB, says that this reclassification is an important step for pharmacists: “OTC availability offers people faster and easier access to effective medicines and reduces pressure and costs on GPs. Where a medicine can show it has a good safety profile and the condition it treats is suitable for self-care, reclassification is very positive and should be encouraged.”

Stérimar spray
There have been some important changes to the UK’s top GP-recommended saline solution Stérimar seawater nasal spray (GPRX data from January-July 2015) this year, too. The brand has seen newly designed packaging for its cold lines – Stérimar Congestion Relief, Stérimar Kids Congestion and Stérimar Baby.

Anne-Sophie Martin, senior brand manager, says that shoppers are considering natural spray remedies as a ‘smart choice’ to provide fast on-the-go relief. She explains: “With more shoppers than ever before with higher expectations of OTC remedies – expecting them to be effective while fitting into their busy yet healthy lifestyle – the relevance of natural remedies continues to increase, as well as contributing to one of the main nasal spray category drivers.”

Martin says that the new packaging was tested among consumers and resonated well across all cold and allergy sufferers having a stronger appeal to parents. She continues: “Stérimar is on a mission to help time-poor shoppers make more informed decisions at the shelf. The latest work we’ve been doing consisted in improving our packaging by leveraging the main key product benefits. “The new-look packs have been modernised to clearly segment the range with a new naming structure that responds to specific consumer needs, while keeping in line with our strong correlation with nature. This is combined with stronger visibility of the core product benefits on the front of packs to help shoppers navigate the products more easily.

“Bringing in the GP stamp of approval further drives consumer trust, through our strong affiliation with GPs, who for a long time have contributed to the success of the brand as well as our USP – a key differentiator,” she adds.

The saline solution
Another saline brand making its mark this year is the Cisca Saltpipe, a natural salt inhaler to help soothe sneezing, coughing and shortness of breath caused by colds, sinus problems, coughs and chest infections.

The saltpipe dates back to 1843 when a Polish physician, a Dr Bochkowsky, noticed that salt miners did not suffer from breathing problems or respiratory diseases and he developed the ‘speleotherapy’ treatment, the inspiration for the saltpipe. The Cisca Saltpipe is available alongside a lighter weight Easy Saltpipe and a fun children’s version, the Elipipe.

In mid-August, Olbas added the new ‘on-the-go’ 20ml Olbas Nasal Spray to its cold remedy range. Olbas Nasal Spray contains eucalyptus, niaouli, wild mint extract and hypertonic seawater to unblock the nasal passages and prevent the spread of viral infections. It is suitable for adults and children aged over six years. Nikki Banwell, Olbas’s brand manager, says the brand will ‘spritz up sales’ during the winter season. “The return of the cold and flu season is upon us.

Many consumers will continue their everyday commitments while fighting a cold. It is therefore vital that pharmacists ensure solutions are readily available as consumers turn to their local pharmacies for over-the-counter cold and flu solutions,” she says. “We are thrilled to be launching Olbas Nasal Spray – a fast-acting blocked nose remedy that works within just two minutes. It is an on-the-go winter health essential from the UK’s number one decongestant oil brand (IRI HBA/ OTC; 10 June 17) that is clinically proven to unblock nasal passages. Olbas Nasal Spray not only works within just two minutes, but also provides an immediate refreshing sensation.”

Sore throats
A OnePoll Omnibus survey of 1,000 parents of children aged six to 18 conducted on behalf of the benzocaine anaesthetic throat spray Ultra Chloraseptic reveals that half of people (49%) take time off work because of a throat infection with 12% missing five days or more.

Fifty-eight per cent of children take time off school because of a sore throat. The research found that the most uncomfortable symptoms were difficulty swallowing (78%) and throat pain (67%). The sore throat confectionery brand, Jakemans, is to have a TV advertising campaign this winter, from November until mid-January, supported with print, digital and PR campaigns. “The local pharmacy is often the first port of call for busy consumers looking for remedies to soothe their [sore throat] symptoms while on-thego. It is therefore vital that pharmacists stock up on remedies to help consumers ease the symptoms of common winter illnesses,” says Elizabeth Hughes-Gapper, Jakemans’ brand manager.

Iconic confectionery brand Fisherman’s Friend is gearing up for another stellar sales performance this winter, with the brand being bolstered with a heavyweight marketing campaign. This will include the brand returning to TV screens in the New Year with adverts featuring world renowned tenor Alfie Boe. In addition, the brand will be giving community pharmacists the opportunity to obtain a Fisherman’s Friend Mega Tin – on offer on a first-come, firstserved basis – that can be used to create eye-catching POS displays.

Fighting the flu
Details of a new trial that could potentially revolutionise the way the flu jab is administered has been completed by scientists from Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology in the USA and was published in The Lancet in June. The trial, entitled ‘The safety, immunogenicity, and acceptability of inactivated influenza vaccine delivered by microneedle patch (TIV-MNP 2015)’, investigates patches as an alternative to needle and syringe vaccinations against flu. The trial tested three groups of people (including with a placebo) for 180 days. Participants applied the patches to their wrists for 20 minutes. The small ‘pain free’ sticky patch, containing tiny needles, could be a useful alternative for those who fear needles. The micropatches could also be more practical for pharmacists to stock as, unlike vaccinations, they do not have to be kept in a fridge.

And with the NHS offering vaccinations to a larger number of patient groups this year, getting value for money is trickier. Pharmacy supplier, Valley Northern has introduced a flu vaccination bundle pack priced at 25% less than the list value of the products when purchased separately. It contains sterile disposable syringes, hypodermic needles, nitrile powder free gloves, a sharps bin, alcotip pre-injection swabs, 200 cotton wool balls and washproof spot plasters. With enough supplies to cover a minimum of 100 vaccinations with each pack, it’s sure to help you through the busy flu season. With children as young as 2 years old being offered the vaccine this year, the company is also offering a “Hassle Free Harry” mascot that pharmacists can use to help keep toddlers’ minds off the vaccine as it’s happening.



During the winter, colds spread like wildfire among close-contact communities, families, schools, offices and nurseries. NHS Choices recommends some of the following preventative measures:
• Encourage customers to wash their hands regularly, especially before eating, or touching the nose and mouth.
• Keep surfaces clean to avoid contamination.
• Use tissues when coughing and sneezing, throw them away after use and wash hands.
• Sufferers should use their own cups, plates and cutlery.
• Avoid sharing toys, towels, etc, with a cold sufferer.
• Consider supplements to boost immunity, like vitamin C.

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