Despite a 13 per cent increase from last year, less than a quarter (21%) of pharmacy teams recommend Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) as a first line of treatment for frequent heartburn.
There has been a 4% decrease in pharmacy teams considering ‘frequent heartburn’ as a condition that occurs more than once a week 8-in-10 said a larger pack size would be useful to their patients who suffer from frequent heartburn.
Haleon, formerly part of GSK, has recently commissioned research to better understand how pharmacy teams help patients to treat frequent heartburn. Comparing with data captured last year, there has been a been a +13% increase in the number of pharmacy teams recommending Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) (21% in 2022 vs 8% in 2021).
Nexium Control, the UK’s number one heartburn product for 24-hour protection, aims to use this research to provide better support for pharmacists and their teams and encourage the recommendation of PPIs, where appropriate for frequent heartburn, over other heartburn remedies.
While there has been a positive increase in teams advocating PPIs, there is still room for improvement as pharmacists continue to prefer recommending alternatives for heartburn sufferers. Alginates and antacids were listed as first and second choice of recommendation respectively. While these faster-acting and more reactive treatments can help occasional heartburn sufferers, PPIs offer long-lasting, protective treatment for those experiencing frequent heartburn.
The research also pointed to a lack of understanding in what qualifies as ‘frequent heartburn’, which may point to why PPI recommendations are offered less often. The findings show that 63% of respondents considered frequent heartburn to be a condition which occurs at least 4 times a week despite literature defining frequent heartburn to be considered when symptoms occur two days or more per week. This may explain why pharmacy teams are continuing to offer short-acting treatments, such as alginates, rather than long-lasting treatments like PPIs.
Christie Matthews, Senior Expert Brand Manager at Haleon, says “With 33% of respondents asking for more support in providing lifestyle management advice to those suffering with frequent heartburn, we have an important role to play in helping those teams be as knowledgeable about the condition as possible. Pharmacy teams play a significant role in frontline management of frequent heartburn, it is important that all members of the team are confident in providing the appropriate treatment options for the patient’s ailment. As the UK’s number one heartburn product for 24-hour protection, we recognise that we have a responsibility to support these teams in providing the best care for their patients.
“Sharing this research is just one step we are taking to help pharmacists and their teams support frequent heartburn sufferers. Pharmacists are often the first port of call for those with frequent heartburn, and we are committed to ensuring these teams remain upskilled and understand the role which PPIs can play when managing symptoms.
“Pharmacists and their teams can access the Haleon Health Partner portal for more information and support on the signs and symptoms of frequent heartburn and how best to treat patients over the counter. We’re hopeful that going forward, more pharmacists and their teams will look into the benefits of PPIs, and that the number of teams recommending products, such as Nexium Control, will continue to increase.”
The research also demonstrated an appetite amongst pharmacy teams for a for a branded pharmacy-only tablet in the larger pack format. Findings showed that 8-in-10 respondents said that a larger pack size would be useful, 34% saying VERY useful and 46% said quite useful, to patients who suffer from frequent heartburn.
“Nexium Control has directly addressed this need and filled this gap by recently launching a larger 28 pack format. This new, bigger pack offers heartburn sufferers the convenience of having a second course of 14 tablets on hand, should the symptoms reoccur at a later date. With this larger pack size patients get improved value at a lower cost per tablet.