Dr Carol Howell is Enterosgel’s research director

Enterosgel’s research director Dr Carol Howell talks about the importance of the brand to community pharmacy…

Enterosgel is a versatile safe drug-free alternative to current anti-diarrhoeal medicines found on pharmacy shelves.

Enterosgel is different from other anti-diarrhoeals within this category, as it is suitable for children aged one year and over, so can be taken by the whole family. This intestinal adsorbent can be used for both acute diarrhoea due to gastrointestinal infections and for chronic irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhoea (IBS-D).

Why should community pharmacists stock this brand?

Unlike anti-diarrhoeals which work by slowing gut motility, Enterosgel is an intestinal adsorbent which physically binds harmful substances from the gut, that can cause diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal symptoms and expels them naturally with the stools.

Because it is a medical device not a medicine, has no pharmacological action and is not absorbed by the body, it is a safe option for children and adults and can help reduce the likelihood of side effects which can be an issue with anti-diarrhoeal medicines.

Enterosgel has a unique composition of an adsorbent mineral gel based in water, it contains no additional preservatives or additives so is easy to recommend from vegetarians to people with allergies or intolerances. The gel is mixed with water and taken orally in between meals; it is tasteless so well tolerated even by children.

As an IBS treatment the brand stands out from the crowd, unlike many treatments which target only one symptom, Enterosgel provides an “All-in-one” relief of the main symptoms of IBS-D. In the recent “RELIEVE IBS-D” clinical trial based in the UK in 440 patients with IBS-D, compared to placebo Enterosgel signifi cantly improved abdominal pain, diarrhoea, bloating, stool frequency and urgency in patients and 76 per cent said it gave them adequate relief of their symptoms.

The NICE guidelines for children with infective gastroenteritis characterised by sudden onset of diarrhoea, encourage fluid intake and offering an oral rehydration solution (ORS). Enterosgel provides Pharmacists another treatment option that can be sold and used alongside ORS.

Unlike ORS which replenishes lost salts and fluid, it works by removing bacterial toxins and viruses which are the cause of diarrhoea. A 2018 clinical trial in people with acute diarrhoea showed that Enterosgel significantly reduced the duration of diarrhoea.

A brief history of the brand?

Enterosgel was launched in the UK in 2016, by Enteromed Ltd which was set up explicitly to bring Enterosgel a CE certified medical device to the UK from its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Europe. The over the-counter product can be recommended for pharmacists for relief of acute diarrhoea and IBS diarrhoea.

Enteromed Ltd started a clinical research organisation and began working closely with the European manufacturer to design and run the first local UK lab-based study investigating Enterosgel’s mode of action.

This was followed shortly afterwards by two UK studies in acute diarrhoea and then a large study in patients with IBS-D which has just completed. These clinical studies have been successful in confirming Enterosgel is an effi cient treatment for both acute diarrhoea and IBS-D.

Enterosgel has a 225g tube version which is suitable for those that take regularly for IBS-D and a package of 10 sachets which are convenient to keep close by when on the go.

There is also a 90g tube version which can be used for an acute diarrhoea episode. In 2020, we designed a new fun and engaging “Enterosgel kids” version of the packaging and tube which makes a great addition to the children’s category.

What is the secret of its success?

Enterosgel is a safe drug-free option that due to its distinctive adsorption ability, targets the cause of diarrhoea and associated gastrointestinal symptoms and is clinically proven to reduce the duration of acute diarrhoea and effectively relieve all the main symptoms of IBS-D.

It has an excellent safety record during its widespread use for over 20 years throughout Europe, so Pharmacists can recommend with confidence one of the few treatment options available for children with diarrhoea.

How do you incentivise pharmacies that stock your brand?

We know from experience of working closely with pharmacies that stocking the brand provides a great opportunity to grow your business, as it can be sold together with other gastro category products, which translates into an easy way to increase sales.

Instead of offering the brand as a replacement, it works well as a complementary treatment for the whole family. For example, Enterosgel Kids is a unique treatment for acute diarrhoea caused by tummy bugs, which are common in children.

Sold alongside oral rehydration solution, which is recommended to rehydrate children, Enterosgel Kids removes the cause of the diarrhoea and has been clinically proven to reduce the duration of acute diarrhoea. Children can recover more quickly which is a winning situation for parents and pharmacies benefit from increased sales.

Likewise, linking the brand to sales of other gastro category products for IBS and diarrhoea, including anti-diarrhoeals, probiotics and supplements, the brand offers a complementary safe treatment to remove the underlying cause of these conditions.

As well as being an attractive product by virtue of its versatile sales opportunities, the brand has a high cash margin, so is a great product to stock. Because the brand offers a treatment option for IBS which is a chronic condition, pharmacies can encourage the growth of repeat consumers.

What category management advice would you give pharmacists looking to stock this brand?

The Enterosgel range are a welcome addition to the Gastro category, stocking all three variants; 90g, 225g and sachets provides consumers with options depending on their planned use. Add the “kids” version to your children’s category next to ORS and help generate more interest using PoS materials.

As intestinal adsorbents are a relatively new type of treatment in the UK, you can really help consumers by offering advice on the product, especially how it works to relive diarrhoea. Be aware that this topic can be a sensitive subject, so be prepared to be mindful when offering advice.

How would you differentiate your brand with the competition?

There is currently nothing else like Enterosgel available in pharmacies. The unique selling point of the brand is it is completely safe product for both children and adults, it has no additives or preservatives and contains only the active ingredient which is an organic mineral and water.

Pharmacists can be confident in offering this brand, with the knowledge there are UK clinical studies supporting its safe and effective use and that it has been used worldwide for over 20 years with no safety concerns.

How important are community pharmacists to your brand?

We really believe that community pharmacists have played an important role in the success behind the brand and can continue to do so in the future. We recognise that UK consumers prefer visiting their community pharmacy and trust their advice for a whole range of conditions. As people find it more and more difficult to visit their overstretched GPs, community pharmacists can support consumers by offering this safe and effective brand.

Traditionally in the UK, people with gastroenteritis tend to avoid their GP surgery and as their first point of call visit their pharmacist, who have been a great supporter of the brand as a quick and effective treatment for short-term diarrhoea.

Likewise, many people with IBS have tried numerous treatments to manage their condition and it is estimated that less than one third of these patients are satisfied with their current therapy.

These consumers who are searching for an effective treatment often approach their pharmacist. As a brand we rely on community pharmacists understanding the brand and how it works, as well as playing an important role not only in recommending the brand but also in explaining directly to the consumer how it can help treat their condition.

What is the marketing activity around the brand?

Enteromed has teamed up with organisations that provide CPD training for GPs and Pharmacists and we will be marketing the product and trial results through attending webinars and the live events. As well as publishing the IBS study results in a top scientific journal, we will be advertising the product through trade and consumer PR and using digital and social media channels to reach consumers. We also have a full list of PoS items including informational leaflets available for pharmacies.

What is the ultimate aim for the brand?

The Enteromed team are committed to helping more people to discover this safe “drugfree” treatment which is available over-the counter and can help people manage both this acute and chronic diarrhoea. We will continue research and are working with clinicians in the UK and abroad to investigate new indications for this breakthrough product.

What is one thing about the brand that makes it sellable to consumers?

The safe and effective properties of Enterosgel which makes it suitable diarrhoea treatment for the whole family.

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