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Galderma Brings Differin Gel Over the Counter to Ignite Acne Sales

Rx-to-OTC remedy is expected to appeal to consumers disappointed with current options.

Retailers expect Differin Gel will be a breakout star in the $750 million acne category.

Galderma’s Laboratories’ Differin Gel is the first and only FDA-approved over-the-counter product to contain a full prescription strength acne-fighting retinoid, called adapalene.

Differin Gel comes to the shelves with a strong track record — previously it was prescription only and used by more than 40 million people globally for more than 20 years.

The acne category can use the boost that the Rx-to-OTC gel is expected to bring. For the 52-week period ended Oct. 30, 2016 for multiunit doors tracked by IRI, acne dollar volume was down 5 percent.

Galderma’s goal is to be within the top-selling items in acne within the first year. Although the company wouldn’t comment on dollar projections, it is estimated Differin Gel can hit sales exceeding $40 million at retail.

“The market has been flat to declining over the past three years,” confirmed June Risser, vice president of marketing for Galderma’s self-medication unit. Interestingly though, the number of cases remains stable at 50 million people suffering in the U.S. alone.

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In search of a solution, more than 50 percent of that population tries multiple products. Eighty-one percent of adult sufferers claim to not have found an effective treatment.

“It is the cycle of frustration,” Risser said. There’s also been a lack of innovation in acne. Buyers said Differin Gel represents the first advancement and ingredient in over the counter acne medications in 30 years.

One reason consumers haven’t hit the right cure is because the major brands contain the same active ingredients. So even as consumers swap out products, the formulas are similar with either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as the active ingredient. Differin Gel’s adapalene, Risser explained, offers benefits from existing options. Specifically, she noted it initiates cell turnover and has anti-inflammatory properties, which help improve the tone and texture of skin. The product is also designed to be used across the entire face, not just a spot solution.

“For us to bring a new active ingredient that previously was only available by a doctor is fantastic. The other dynamic in the acne market is that only one-third of consumers will actually see a doctor for their condition,” she added. “We think it is a huge patient access story. You can pick up Differin Gel at any mass retailer.” Starting next month, the brand will be in the acne section in major retailers such as Wal-Mart (which is said to skew high in acne product sales), Walgreens Boots Alliance, CVS and other major chains.

For retailers, Differin Gel offers an avenue to trade shoppers up to a higher price points. A package good for up to 30 days of use retails for $13.99, one for 90 days is $29.99. Existing acne medications retail for about $6, buyers noted.

Also, Differin offers a cleanser and moisturizer to encourage multiple sales. The Differin Balancing Cleanser and Balancing Moisturizer each retail for $8.99 for 4 ounces. What will also fuel sales is that Differin, which is approved for those 12 and up with mild to moderate acne, is targeted for adult acne sufferers — an often overlooked group.

In a clinical study, consumers that participated reported a 50 percent average decrease in lesions after 12 weeks of use and patients who used Differin Gel daily for 12 months saw an 80 percent decrease in acne lesions. Galderma has a robust marketing campaign planned to incorporate television and social networks to educate about the line.

In-store support will also help promote the launch including off-shelf presentation. “We are striving for educating consumers and will use all available vehicles to do so,” concluded Risser.