Switch, new launches to bring resurgence

What a difference a year will make. While sales of antacid tablets were down 1.3% to $2 billion for the 52 weeks ended July 14 across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI, the entire category ought to have made a significant resurgence by this time next year.

(For the full category review, including sales data, click here.)

The Rx-to-OTC switch of the last big-name proton-pump inhibitor in the pharmaceutical space is currently under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration. Should AstraZeneca's Nexium be approved as an over-the-counter remedy, a $6 billion book of prescription business in the United States could make the switch, according to IMS Health data compiled over 2012. That shift from prescription-only to OTC doesn't translate dollar-for-dollar, but it does spell plenty of opportunity for all OTC antacids in May 2014 — which is when Nexium patents expire and presumably is Pfizer's target launch date for the switch.

GlaxoSmithKline's Tums continues to sell well as the value proposition. At less than $4 per unit, Tums is by far the least expensive top-10 antacid on the market. But Bayer Consumer will ramp up the competition with its recently launched Alka Seltzer Fruit Chews, and Chattem is planning a relaunch of the venerable Rolaids brand later this year.

Another hot category is probiotics, with the leading brands all up by double-digits for the 52 weeks ended July 14: Phillips Colon Health ($58.7 million, up 19.9%), Culturelle ($20.1 million, up 33.7%), Sustenex ($9.4 million, up 16.6%) and Align ($6.9 million, up 117.8%).

According to a survey conducted by Dannon each year, 68% of Americans are aware that probiotics play a key role in maintaining digestive health. A separate study published Aug. 19 in Pediatrics found that the babies of pregnant women who supplement with probiotics were less likely to have allergies.