Drug brands boost offerings with after-pills

So what's the story?
We may not be able to change the past but after-remedies may be just what we need to help soften the blow.
If you overindulged last evening, there's help for a hangover that doesn't include raw eggs or the hair of the dog. Rundown and worn out following a cold? Pop a lozenge to kick-start your engine.
Two big brands have recently introduced extensions that tap into this new 'after' market.

So what’s the story?

We may not be able to change the past but after-remedies may be just what we need to help soften the blow.

If you overindulged last evening, there’s help for a hangover that doesn’t include raw eggs or the hair of the dog. Rundown and worn out following a cold? Pop a lozenge to kick-start your engine.

Two big brands have recently introduced extensions that tap into this new ‘after’ market.

Bayer has added to its ‘plop, plop, fizz, fizz’ franchise with Alka-Seltzer Morning Relief. It is currently available in the U.S., but the Canadian operation hasn’t yet decided whether to launch it into this market.

The effervescent hangover cure is a combination of maximum strength pain reliever and caffeine – two things that anyone facing a rough morning reaches for anyway – with a ‘refreshing citrus’ flavour.

Whether consumers are planning ahead for hangovers and stocking up on Alka-Seltzer Morning Relief or not, the Web site devoted to the brand lists several little-known factoids that indicate the need, such as that productivity losses in the U.S. due to hangovers are US$148 billion, and that America was really ‘discovered’ because the pilgrims ran out of alcoholic beverages and landed at what is now Plymouth, Mass. to brew more.

Moving on to less self-induced ailments, Benylin Energy Boosting Lozenges are available in Canada and in fact were developed here. The product, introduced last fall, rounds out Benylin’s cough and cold offerings to cover before, during and after.

Toronto-based Calvin Hwang, senior brand manager, Benylin for Pfizer Consumer Group Canada, says Benylin is the number-one brand nationally for cough and cold remedies so the new product was approached as a way to continue to lead the market rather than as a way to ride the trend in ‘after-illness’ treatments.

Do we really need a pill for after our colds?

Hwang says Energy Boosting Lozenges are the second new product to come out of consumer research into the different stages of a cold, and that both tap into consumer demand for natural products.

He says Pfizer found that consumers were looking for remedies that would either help eliminate or shorten the duration of a cold. In 1999, the company launched Benylin First Defense, in both lozenge and syrup forms, to help boost the immune system to treat the early signs of a cold. The herbal compound contains echinacea, menthol and is sweetened with honey.

Hwang says what Benylin didn’t have was a remedy to treat fatigue, one of the top three symptoms of a cold, according to more company research.

‘We developed a product concept and tested that with consumers. They were quite responsive to an energy boosting idea, especially regarding fatigue experienced before, during or after a cold.

‘With the research we did around echinacea in the First Defense product we learned that ginseng was also a very popular herbal ingredient. It’s traditionally known as an invigorator or energy booster. That fit the profile we were looking for, [to] reduce fatigue.’

What flavour do the lozenges come in? Chicken soup?

Energy Boosting Lozenges combine ginseng and menthol and come in two flavours, Harvest Cherry and Honey Lemon. Hwang says the before and after concepts are being exported abroad but not yet to the U.S., where the Benylin business is not as strong as in Canada.

The menthol in the lozenge works topically to temporarily reduce some of the cold-related symptoms such as scratchy throat and nasal congestion. The ginseng, says Hwang, is more of a gradual build and with repeated use will help relieve the fatigue and help build stamina.

‘[Energy Boosting Lozenges] use herbal technology that’s more gentle so you’re not shocking your body with caffeine to try to pick yourself up, avoiding some of the caffeine-related effects.’

Hwang says consumers are responding. Benylin’s lozenge business – First Defense and Energy Boosting combined – is up 28% over a year ago.

Benylin launched Energy Boosting Lozenges with a campaign from Toronto-based Bates Canada that included outdoor and in-store advertising as well as five-second tags on television spots.