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Innovation spurs medication sales.

NEW YORK -- After years of flat sales the foot care medications segment has suddenly perked up, with dollar volume rising 9.4% in the mass market as a whole and 6.7% in drug stores during the 52 weeks ended July 19, according to Information Resources Inc.

"A number of innovative items that have recently been introduced have clearly been instrumental in boosting sales in the segment," observes a buyer for a large Northeastern drug chain.

As in the foot care devices category, Schering-Plough HealthCare Products is a powerhouse in foot medications, with its Lotrimin, Tinactin and Dr. Scholl's brands ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in dollar sales.

The supplier's strong advertising, sampling and educational initiatives have kept the three brands thriving. Schering-Plough plans to build on its success in the segment in 1999 with the launch of such items as Dr. Scholl's Odor Destroyers liquid powder and Shoe Shot, Tinactin portable pump spray and Foot & Sneaker powder.

Private label products, which together constitute the No. 4 brand, have also made significant inroads during the past 12 months, with dollar sales up 10.1%. Novartis Consumer Health Inc.'s popular Desenex brand rounds out the top five. Its volume advanced 5.4% during the 52 weeks.

Suppliers with long track records in the category are adjusting to changing times and opportunities. After nearly a century in the field, W.F. Young has unveiled Absorbine antifungal liquid for the prevention and cure of athlete's foot.

When the Food and Drug Administration changed its monograph system in the 1980s, the company had to remove the athlete's foot claims from its Absorbine Jr. packaging. "The product was being marketed for sore muscles as well as athlete's foot, and we still had a large following among consumers seeking relief for the latter condition" says director of marketing Jaime Devine.

To address that consumer need, the company developed a 2-ounce plastic bottle which contains the Absorbine Jr. formula plus tolnaftate, an approved ingredient for preventing and curing athlete's foot. "The new hands-free applicator puts relief directly on affected areas with no greasy or sticky residue," comments Devine.

Other manufacturers are also introducing ideas and products to the category. For example, Lake Consumer Products Inc. recently launched the DryFoot line with three SKUs -- antifungal cream for feet, antifungal powder and an antiperspirant lotion for feet. All three items contain pure tea tree oil.

ProFoot Care recently unveiled Tea Tree for Toes and Feet, which is touted as a natural antiseptic. The spray-on product, a 15% solution of pure tea tree oil from Australia, will be in chain drug stores nationwide by next spring.

                           FOOT CARE MEDICATIONS
                                Unit Sales
                            BEST-SELLING BRANDS

                                  Market Unit sales
Brand        Manufacturer          share      (000)
Lotrimin     Schering-Plough       14.6%      7,820
Tinactin     Schering-Plough       13.6%      7,269
Dr. Scholl's Schering-Plough       12.2%      6,529
Desenex      Novartis              10.9%      5,835
Freeman      Bristol-Myers Squibb   6.1%      3,263
Micatin      Ortho-McNeil           5.8%      3,120
Odor-Eaters  Combe                  4.1%      2,217

                              BY TRADE CLASS

Drug stores 21.3 mil. (39.7%)
Food Stores 13.3 mil. (24.8%)
Discounters 19 mil. (35.5%)

                               Dollar Sales
                            BEST-SELLING BRANDS

                                  Market Dollar sales
Brand        Manufacturer          share        (000)
Lotrimin     Schering-Plough       20.8%      $56,497
Tinactin     Schering-Plough       15.8%       42,325
Desenex      Novartis              11.7%       31,832
Dr. Scholl's Schering-Plough       10.3%       27,981
Micatin      Ortho-McNeil           6.6%       17,833
Odor-Eaters  Combe                  3.5%        9,641
Freeman      Bristol-Myers Squibb   2.9%        7,869

For the 62 weeks through July 19,1998.
Best-selling brands by dollar volume reflect the leaders in unit sales.
Private label products account for 11.4% unit share and a 10.1% dollar

                              BY TRADE CLASS

Drug stores $122.8 mil. (45.2%)
Food stores $67.3 mil. (24.7%)
Discounters $81.9 mil. (30.1%)

Source: Information Resources Inc.
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Title Annotation:foot care products
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 12, 1998
Previous Article:Drug chains aim to build on advantages.
Next Article:Dr. Scholl's works to expand foot care market.

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