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Pediatric cough/cold gets special attention.

NEW YORK - When it comes to seeking information on how to care for sick children, parents are eager for advice from health care professionals, and they often turn to retail pharmacists.

First-time parents, in particular, are apt to seek advice from pharmacists not only on what over-the-counter products they should select to speed their children's recovery, but on how much and often they can safely administer a given drug. Questions also arise about what form of medication is best for the child: pills that can be chewed, caplets that can be swallowed, liquids or drops.

One pharmaceutical supplier that is helping address those concerns is Novartis Consumer Health Care Inc. Its Triaminic Parents Club is an educational vehicle that offers parents advice on how they can help their children cope with coughs and colds, and it follows the "diagnose before you dose" approach, says a spokesman for the company.

"There are six different versions of Triaminic available, addressing specific problems of children," he notes.

"In consumer testing the diagnose before you dose approach has struck parents head-on because they want to make certain that they give their children not one more ounce of medication than is needed, and that they administer that medication exactly when needed."

The children's cough/cold segment is one area chain drug buyers report is dominated by brand loyalty. Although parents will often choose a private label product for themselves, their allegiance frequently remains with a well-known brand when it comes to treating a child.

Similarly, flavored products tend to do extremely well in this segment.

The National Center for Health Statistics reported late last year that about 82 million cases of cold, flu and similar conditions occur each year among those age 17 and younger. And although many of the nonprescription drugs available will help bring a speedy recovery to a sick toddler, those same medications may be of little use by the time that same child enters preschool.

"Recommended doses of children's medications are based on weight and age," explains Ralph Kauffman, a professor of pediatrics and pharmacology at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. "Dosing by weight is preferable."

Although large companies continue to dominate the children's sector of the cough/cold category, small suppliers have made inroads. And at least one confesses that its success hasn't come easily.

"Sometimes drug stores look at the top SKUs in cough/cold without looking into the entire category," says Matt Kornberg, president and chief executive officer of Vetco Inc.

"The top 20 SKUs could be leading products for adults only."

But the supplier has carved a niche within the nasal preparation segment of the cough/cold category in recent years with its Little Noses products.

The alcohol-free, nonstinging products are available in such formulas as saline spray/drops, decongestant nose drops and moisturizing gel with aloe, each contained in eye-catching packaging.

"We clearly define the nasal products as being safe and effective for infants and children up to about 5 years," notes Kornberg.

"The nonmedicated saline solution can be used as often as needed and comes with a specially sized applicator for use with infants. The nonmedicated gel is a companion product, the first moisturizing item of its kind that can be used as often as needed around the nose when it gets crusty, and inside the nose to keep it moist."

The decongestant nose drops, he explains, are ideal for those 2 and older for stubborn stuffiness "when the saline by itself won't do the trick."
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Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Aug 11, 1997
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