Homeopathy, returning brands shape pain relief

More than half of arthritis sufferers are in search of information on natural remedies, according to a recent 2013 National Arthritis Index, a survey of more than 4,500 people concerned about the condition. For as many as 70% of arthritis patients, their condition limits the activities in which they can participate. Accordingly, they are constantly on the lookout for ways to ease the pain.

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That could prove to be a boost for several new homeopathic topical remedies hitting the market. "You're starting to see an influx of [homeopathic] topical analgesics," reported Les Hamilton, EVP of Hyland's. "You're going to see, within topical analgesics, leg cramps and arnica really come full force in the next 12 months. Arnica is a newer ingredient to the food/drug/mass arena that really does work, [and] arnica's not just focused on pain, but also on bruising and swelling."

Sales of external analgesics were up 5.4% to $457.5 million for the 52 weeks ended July 14 across U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI. And Boiron's Arnicare cracked the top 10 with $9.3 million in sales, up 73.9%.

Meanwhile, sales of internal analgesic tablets were relatively flat — 0.9% growth to $3.1 billion—but that may change. Both Novartis Consumer Health and McNeil Consumer Healthcare will be making strong comebacks across their respective analgesic portfolios in the second half of this year, and retail partners are excited about getting these brand names back on shelf, suggested Stefan Merlo, director of healthcare strategy at Novartis Consumer Health.

"They're treating them almost as if they are new launches," he said. "And they are investing [with us] in different types of displays, innovative types of [displays], so that we can make the awareness about these brands even greater."