Homeopathic medicines are moving steadily into the mainstream: in recent years, best-selling products can be found in Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid.
“The U.S. market for homeopathic medicines continues to grow vigorously as consumers and doctors embrace more natural and safer medicine choices,” said Thierry Montfort, president and CEO of Heel Inc. (Albuquerque, NM), and first vice president with American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists (AAHP), the homeopathic manufacturers’ trade association.
In fact, AAHP reported “there has been an exponential increase in the use of homeopathic medicines over the last two decades.” Sales of homeopathic medications in the U.S. exceeded $800 million in 2007.
Market researchers also found good news for the industry; Mintel reported globally on the market for homeopathic medicines and herbal remedies in its April 2011 report that this market increased +17 percent from 2005-09. “As these once considered ‘alternative’ products continue to transition into the mainstream, Mintel expects growth to continue at a steady rate averaging +3.5 percent growth through 2015.”
In addition, The Hartman Group reported that overall use of homeopathic medicines in the preceding 12 months grew 20 percent in 2011 from 15 percent in 2010, and that 59 percent of shoppers are “somewhat” or “very” familiar with homeopathy, up from 50 percent in 2010.
“Our growth at Heel is in line with these industry trends with a specificity: Heel Inc. works as much with practitioners as it does with retailers, which is a unique situation in this industry as most of the other homeopathic companies focus only on retailers,” Montfort said.
As proof of further growth, noted Belle
Noorzai, sales manager with Washington Homeopathic Products (Berkeley Springs, WV), recently Dr. Oz highlighted a few common homeopathic remedies on his television show. “Naturally this respected and well-known doctor’s discussion of the efficacy of homeopathy helps to open consumers up to trying out homeopathics and this is very positive for the industry.”
U. S. Regulations
The federal regulatory framework for homeopathic medicines is a model that has worked exceptionally well, Montfort said. He explained that homeopathic medicines have been regulated as drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since the enactment of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, and are subject to an established and well-defined regulatory process. The FDA issued a compliance policy guide in 1988 and revised it in 1995 defining “conditions under which homeopathic drugs may be marketed in the USA.” This compliance policy guide has been an effective and workable guideline for regulating homeopathic drugs.
The FDA—with good manufacturing practices, standards, labeling and adverse event reporting requirements—regulates allopathic and homeopathic drugs the same way. The Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States (HPUS) is recognized as the official compendium For homeopathic drugs. It publishes all approved homeopathic monographs, organized by active ingredient.
History of Safety
The efficacy of homeopathic medicines is supported by 200 years of clinical observation, but an increasing number of scientific studies are being conducted and, in recent years, more than 150 of these studies have been published in medical journals.
“The effectiveness of many Heel medicines has been proven to authorities and physicians according to the standards of conventional medicine, and the medical and scientific world is very interested in this aspect,” Montfort said. More than 60 published study results with Heel medicines have appeared in recognized conventional medical journals, demonstrating that science is the correct path to convince physicians and therapists alike.”
In July 2010, French Nobel Prize winning virologist Luc Montagnier shocked an international conference of physicians and scientists with a method for the detection of viral infections, which bears parallels to the basic principles of homeopathy. The virologist, who received in 2008 the Nobel Prize for Medicine for AIDS virus research, had now uncovered that water possesses a type of “memory” that is present after many dilutions, Montfort pointed out. “Also interesting in this connection are the findings of a group of Indian researchers, who had recently discovered that measurable changes take place on the nanoparticle level even at extremely high dilutions.
“These two recent publications indicate that micro doses and high potencies can be proven scientifically,” Montfort said. “However, a lot of work remains to be done to explain the mechanism of action of homeopathic dilutions.”
Adverse events for homeopathic medicines are very low and, as a result of homeopathy’s outstanding safety record, the federal regulatory structure has proven quite effective, Montfort added. “This is why the industry has been shocked by the recent recalls of two homeopathic medicines Zicam (nasal spray containing zinc associated to loss of smell) and Hyland’s teething tablets.”
New on the Shelf
Though grounded in history, homeopathic manufacturers have kept their offerings fresh with a variety of products in new categories and delivery systems.
Hyland’s, Inc. (Los Angeles, CA) recently introduced its Hyland’s Bioplasma Sport, a homeopathic sports recovery product. The delivery is a pre-packaged powder dose that can be taken on its own or dissolved in a bottle of water.
We have found that consumers continue to appreciate our unique quick-dissolving tablets and parents welcomed our 4 Kids products in a liquid. So, this fall, we will be launching Hyland’s Defend for adults,” said Dale Nepsa, president, Hyland’s, Inc. “Hyland’s Defend includes Defend Sinus in our quick-dissolving tablets and Defend Cold & Cough and Defend Nighttime Cold & Cough, both in liquid formats.
Washington Homeopathic now offers its most popular combination formulas in a 12-dose blister pack: convenient to carry in a purse, briefcase or suitcase for those people on the go, said Carolyn L. Hills, the company’s marketing manager. Calendula Ointment is now available while four other ointments should be available for sale soon. “Also, we are hoping to soon release the new and improved Rusto Lotion, which relieves the itch and dries up the oozing discharge from poison ivy and poison oak.”
Heel introduced new products to the stress and sleep category and the allergy category in the last two years. Adrisin™ is Heel’s newest allergy medicine offering temporary relief from allergy symptoms Like runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing and skin irritations. It features a non-drowsy formula and may be taken with other medications without the risk of drug interactions. Since its introduction in 2009, sales have risen 10 percent. Neurexan® is Heel’s answer for addressing the symptoms Of sleep disturbances. Unlike conventional treatments, Neurexan works to restore the body’s natural sleep cycle. Its sales have increased 30 percent in the last two years.
Nelsons Homeopathy (North Andover, MA) is primarily known for decades of Bach Original Flower Remedies and RESCUE brand sales. “Although products like Rescue Remedy and our new RESCUE Gum make up a majority of our homeopathic sales, the company has 150 years of traditional homeopathic history upon which we continue to build our future by tapping into new opportunities,” said Curt Finckler, marketing director at Nelsons Homeopathy. “For example, the Nelsons Pure & Clear acne care system marks the crossover entry of homeopathy into the broader acne or skin care categories. As we know, consumers don’t necessarily shop for the ‘homeopathy’ category, rather they purchase remedies by indication.”
Hyland’s helps educate retailers with its Hyland’s Homeopathic University, or H2U, a free, online training program. H2U provides easy-to-understand lessons in homeopathy and also offers advice and counsel on how to talk about homeopathic medicines with store customers. The program currently offers two levels of education and will continue to expand.
Whenever possible, Washington Homeopathic offers customized in-person training to retail accounts. The company also provides a listing of frequently asked questions and answers compiled by its customer service and sales staff and a helpful flyer titled “Hints & Tips for Retailers” to all retail accounts.
“The company’s website, www.homeopathyworks. com, is a great resource as retailers can search the online Materia Medica by remedy or symptom and read about the uses of single remedies,” added Noorzai. “We also offer useful web pages dedicated to introductory information on homeopathy, history and facts on using the medicine.”
Heel’s training both on product knowledge and the science of bioregulatory medicine for retailers is available on-site at the Heel facility in Albuquerque, NM, as well as in stores.
As for store customers “Retailers should market the natural aspects of homeopathic products and educate the consumer on how homeopathic medicines’ microdoses stimulate the body to heal itself,” said Ann Thompson, Heel’s director of marketing. “We know that the word natural is good in the mind of the consumer and it also gives one a feeling of being safe. Displays to enhance this perception as well as its reality should be incorporated.”
Finckler agreed, adding that natural remedies need no separation. “Given current natural product supplement aisle layouts with homeopathic and herbal remedies separated, a consumer shopping the aisles of a store seeking pain relief may get confused and give up,” he said. “To maximize sales of Arnica products, for example, a retailer should have a ‘first aid’ category with clear signage. Arnica-based products, like Arnileve SPORT, can be placed within this category right alongside the Tiger Balms of the world. This eliminates the confusion and promotes purchase.”
To that end, manufacturers are trending toward packaging of homeopathics so that they fit in along with other non-homeopathic products on the shelf, added Noorzai. “Instead of just labeling a remedy as ‘arnica,’ for example, the packaging clearly identifies the symptoms to be treated helping consumers to understand the product even if they have no background knowledge of homeopathy. Therefore, increasingly, homeopathy no longer stands out as being something ‘other,’ but rather are just one of the many alternatives available for treating one’s over-the-counter ailments with the added benefit of not causing side effects.”
An example of this is Washington Homeopathic Products’ Insomnia, which comes in a sleek blister pack that clearly identifies the uses and that it is natural, non-habit forming, will not cause drowsiness and has no known side effects. “In our experience, consumers respond well to products marketed in such a way,” Noorzai said. “They ease the novice into using homeopathy through clear explanations of the products uses and reassure them of its safety and natural ingredients.”