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Thermal treatments gain traction with consumers.


NEW YORK -- Increasing recognition of thermal therapy as an analgesic is driving sales of hot and cold wraps in chain drug stores, according to retailers and suppliers.

Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) established the connection between heat and pain treatment with the launch of the ThermaCare line, sold last year to Wyeth, which itself recently agreed to be acquired by Pfizer Inc.

"In 2002 P&G-funded research legitimized over-the-counter therapeutic heat products as effective topical analgesics," says Mark Bruder, president and chief executive officer of Bruder Healthcare Co., manufacturer of the ThermalOn line of microwave-activated wraps, sleeves and pads. "As a result we now have medically accepted parameters to determine the efficacy of self-administered heat therapy treatments to relieve pain."

ThermaCare is the primary hot/cold therapy driver at Lewis Drugs, notes O-T-C category manager Troy Claussen. The products' portability and ability to provide heat for up to 12 hours for arthritis sufferers make the line the category leader, he says.

ThermaCare also sells well at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, says category manager Shawn Peterson. Other stellar performers at Pharmaca, he adds, include Caldera cold gel packs, which are the chain's top sellers in the segment; two Ace SKUs (the hot/cold wrap and the reusable cold compress); and two Nexcare SKUs (the re-usable hot/cold pack and the instant cold pack).

Caldera also thrives at Hi-School Pharmacy, according to buyer Jerry Boileau. Grabber heat packs and Ace products, too, have performed well at Hi-School, he says.

At Raleigh, N.C.-based Kerr Drug, ThermaCare and Chattem Inc.'s Icy Hot have a "significant" lead in the product segment, says category manager Scott Porter.

For their part, ThermalOn Microwave Activated Moist Heat products are tested and clinically proven to deliver analgesia, so they appeal to consumers seeking ways to reduce their dependence on systemic drugs to manage their pain, says Bruden

ThermalOn products meet and exceed the published "Criteria for an Ideal Topical Analgesic," adds Bruder Healthcare marketing manager Sharon Burkart. Natural moist heat is delivered by patented beads that are continuously hydrated with water molecules from the air and never require wetting. ThermalOn beads will not support fungi or bacteria growth, resulting in the delivery of "clean" odor-free moist heat, says Burkart.

The wraps and sleeves deliver a timed-release treatment while remaining soft and conforming, she adds. The ThermalOn product line features anatomical designs for ease of use and complete mobility during treatment. They are ready in just a minute and can even be worn during exercise, she notes.

Microwave moist heat is preferable to dry heat because it is effective at lower and safer temperatures, reducing risk of burns, Burkart says.

ThermalOn products are setting a new standard for delivery of safe and effective self-administered moist heat pain relief, she says.

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Title Annotation:HOT & COLD THERAPY
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Feb 16, 2009
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