Taking a pain check

Neck and shoulder aches and pains are the second most common pain experienced by women

With new awards, clinical studies and natural ranges hitting the shelves, we explain why ‘hot topicals’ have a spring in their step this March

Mentholatum’s topical NSAID Deep Relief Pain Relief Gel has won the pain relief category of Independent Community Pharmacist’s Pharmacy Product of the Year awards for the third consecutive year. The community pharmacists’ choice provides cooling, targeted relief from joint pain, sprains, strains, back pain and rheumatic and muscular pains with the active ingredients levomenthol and ibuprofen.

“Following the win we will be extending the current advertising campaign for Deep Relief with additional trade, consumer and digital promotion,” says senior product manager Elvy Mardjono. “It is so good to have won this prestigious award for the third year running and to know that independent pharmacists chose Deep Relief over some of the biggest and most heavily promoted pain relief brands. This means that they and, importantly – their customers – recognise that Deep Relief provides powerful, targeted pain relief and is an effective anti-inflammatory.”

The Deep Heat range has also received accolades in the beauty sector. In November, Deep Heat Muscle Rescue Neck and Shoulder Heat Patch was voted ‘Best new health and wellbeing product’ at the Beauty Awards.

The heat patch is odourless, self-adhesive and designed to provide up to eight hours relief to the neck and shoulder area. “We developed the muscle rescue products to help ease muscular tension in the neck and shoulders because we know this is a particular problem for many women,” says Ms Mardjono. “In fact, our research shows that neck and shoulder aches and pains are the second most common pain experienced by women and tired, tense muscles are often caused by occupational demands and poor posture. Left untreated, these tired, tense muscles can lead to other issues such as headaches and more serious back, neck and shoulder problems.”

Electric solutions

The Painmaster Patch targets localised areas of pain by applying pulsating low-level electrical currents to affected areas. Clinical studies report a 70 per cent improvement in musculoskeletal pain. The original Painmaster Patch was launched in 2014, but a sister product, Painmaster Women – specifically for period pain – was due to be launched this quarter.

Steve Hutchinson, MD of UK distributor The Microcurrent Site, explains that the patch offers a drug-free, non-invasive way of controlling pain. “Painmaster products offer good margins to pharmacists and are supported by point-of-sale materials and national PR campaigns. They have a clear set of USPs, there is nothing else similar, plus they have proven success in pharmacies in other countries,” he says.

The launch of Painmaster Women will be supported with a PR campaign via the national press, TV and women’s magazines. There will also be point-of-sale materials for both Painmaster and Painmaster Women, and a targeted press advertising campaign.

New for joint and back pain

RB’s new Nurofen Joint & Back Pain Relief range includes four new topical products – two gels and two patch variants. The launch will be supported with a £4 million TV advertising campaign running from April to August and a consumer PR campaign targeting 45-55 year olds, who are key sufferers of joint and back pain.

Nurofen Joint & Back Pain Relief “will be the only full range offering long-lasting relief of body pain in a combination of different formats enabling pharmacy teams to recommend the most appropriate product for their customers’ requirements,” according to RB. Topical products in the range are:

  • Nurofen Joint & Back Pain Relief 5% Gel
  • Nurofen Joint & Back Pain Relief 10% Gel
  • Nurofen Muscle & Back Pain Relief Regular Heat Patch
  • Nurofen Muscle & Back Pain Relief Large Heat Patch.

Silvina Vilas, Nurofen marketing director, says: “Research shows there is an opportunity for a duration-based range, due to body pains being long-lasting, in the medication format demanded. With this insight in mind, we have designed the Nurofen Joint & Back Pain Relief range to make it clear to consumers that they can effectively tackle joint and back pain with a long-lasting product available in different formats and strengths to suit individual preferences and needs.”

For the 31 per cent of customers who don’t regularly seek advice from pharmacy staff on pain relief, the new Nurofen range is intended to help them navigate the pain relief fixture. Research shows that 88 per cent of people shop for products which are clearly labelled for specific types of pain such as headache, migraine, back pain etc. One in four shoppers are put off making a purchase because products carry no specific pain or symptom information on pack and nine in 10 say pain specific packs give them the reassurance to self-treat.

Raising awareness

GSK recently launched a marketing campaign that aims to drive mass awareness of the role of Voltarol 12 Hour Emulgel in pain management.

The campaign includes a TV advert which launched in January for three months and print advertising throughout February and March. Both the TV and print advertising reinforce the key benefit of Voltarol 12 Hour Emulgel by highlighting that, when applied to the area of pain, the gel can provide effective, all-day relief from joint pain.
Hannah Eckstein, Voltarol brand manager, comments: “Over 20 million packs of topical pain products were bought in the UK in the past 12 months, highlighting the importance of brands such as Voltarol in driving awareness of the different options available to treat body pain. We are confident that the compelling campaign will continue to instil trust and loyalty with our target audience and encourage new shoppers to try the brand.”

New naturals

A new natural pain relief range hit UK shores in late 2015 after a year retailing in France. The Puressentiel portfolio consists of a roller for aching joints and muscles and heat patches that can be cut to shape and applied for eight hours of relief. Both products contain around 14 types of essential oils.

UK commercial director Neil Murphy advises that Puressentiel products are only currently available through pharmacies. “Puressentiel provides independent pharmacies with a unique offering to be able to recommend natural products for common conditions that are remedied within pharmacy. They are 100 per cent natural, and supported through clinical trials, therefore ensuring that the pharmacist can recommend a natural product with confidence."

Another topical cooling menthol gel for muscle and joint pain, Paingone Freeze Cooling Gel, was released at the end of August. Pharmacist Ruman Sharma from Tower Pharmacy explains: “Paingone Freeze Cooling Gel provides instant and long-lasting relief for sore, aching muscles and joints. This gel works via a ‘counter irritant’ mechanism by creating impulses that block the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. It can be used for all types of pain, including arthritis and sciatica.”

Joint research

Recent findings announced at the 2015 Osteoarthritis Research International World Congress in Washington suggest that the natural anti-inflammatory, GOPO, can relieve pain and improve lifestyle for osteoarthritis sufferers. In a double-blind trial, GOPO and a placebo were alternated between 47 patients, who recorded their pain severity at different times of day. The trial concluded that GOPO “significantly reduced pain and stiffness”.

Professor Kaj Winther, from the Institute of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen, says: “These studies confirm that GOPO is a potent and effective anti-inflammatory treatment that works to combat some of the most disabling arthritis symptoms.”

The high-strength joint-care food supplement Bioglan OsteoActive Maximum Strength 6-in-1 was introduced to the UK market for ageing joints in November. The capsules contain six synergistic ingredients including krill oil, turmeric, green lip mussel, vitamin C and essential minerals to help reduce joint inflammation and promote bone health.

Natural health company BetterYou is currently exploring the benefits of elemental magnesium chloride for skeletal strength and improved muscle function. Its range of 'transdermal' magnesium products, including joint oil, dissolving flakes and lotions are applied directly to the skin. According to BetterYou, magnesium chloride helps the body to absorb calcium which can build-up and harden within soft tissue and muscles, restricting function and causing joint discomfort.

BetterYou is sponsoring a trial exploring the benefits of transdermal magnesium therapy on patients with small bowel stoma. MD and founder of BetterYou Andrew Thomas explains: “An NHS team have embarked on a ground-breaking trial to investigate BetterYou Magnesium Oil effectiveness in correcting low serum magnesium level in patients with small bowel stoma.

“Magnesium Oil spray allows magnesium to be absorbed through the skin, with no recognised side-effects, allowing potential serum maintenance without the inconvenience and burden to patients of regular parenteral magnesium administration,” says Mr Thomas.

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