Both sales and volume for over-the-counter painkillers were down in the supermarket channel, continuing a 5-year trend of flat or negative performance. Drug stores maintained their dominance of the category, though even here sales were nearly flat and volume was down. Health advisories and warnings about misuse and overdoses could be causing more consumers to reduce the frequency and strength of their dosages. Pricing and promotional structure is likely another factor at work.
New labeling requirements from the Food and Drug Administration that took effect this year state that OTC medications containing acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs must now highlight a bolder warning about liver damage from the former and stomach bleeding from the latter. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson-owned McNeil Consumer Healthcare, makers of some of the nation’s top-selling brands, has been involved with an ongoing, voluntary recall of products, “due to manufacturing deficiencies which may affect quality, purity or potency,” according to the FDA.