GSK looks for another OTC allergy crossover hit in newly launched Flonase Sensimist

GlaxoSmithKline is expanding its Flonase family. Flonase Sensimist, a prescription-to-OTC allergy nasal spray, launched last week, following the successful crossover of the umbrella brand Flonase in early 2015.

With the launch, GSK Consumer Healthcare is capitalizing on the prominence of the Flonase brand name by changing the product's prescription moniker, Veramyst, to its new OTC name Flonase Sensimist.

“When prescription-only, Veramyst was not widely available on formularies, but had developed a good following among those who used it. GSK Consumer Healthcare saw great value in bring the powerful, prescription-strength product to a wider market by making it available OTC as Sensimist, under the Flonase product umbrella,” a GSK spokeswoman said in an email interview.

Like Flonase, Flonase Sensimist debuted with national TV advertising. The new TV spot differentiates between the two brands by focusing on Sensimist’s delivery method, which, although the product is also a nasal spray, uses a “gentle mist you might not even notice.”

Sensimist also does not contain the floral smell of regular Flonase, although both brands use the same underlying medicine, fluticasone, to treat allergy symptoms. Children’s Flonase is the third brand in the Flonase portfolio and contains the same medicine as regular Flonase.

GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty has high hopes for the new OTC product, he mentioned on the company’s Q4 earnings call last week. The company is "very optimistic that we can follow the huge success of Flonase," he said, while talking about the consumer business that accounted for 13% of 2016 sales.

The original Flonase brought in more than $200 million in sales during just its first 10 months on the market, according to consulting and research firm Kline Group. Flonase had a “huge impact” on the allergy category that year, pushing overall sales up by 14.8%, it said.

While TV ad spending on the Sensimist brand alone is still small, GSK has spent more than $150 million on 11 national TV ads in the two years since the February 2015 OTC launches of Flonase and Children’s Flonase, according to data from realtime TV ad tracker

While not offering specifics about other media for the new Sensimist campaign, the spokeswoman did say consumers can expect to see more “exciting new content” around the Sensimist brand.

GSK Consumer Healthcare now has 13 prescription-to-OTC drugs in its U.S. portfolio, with nine of them generating more than $100 million in annual sales, according to the company.