Cold Sore Market

Comprehensive primary market research in four major European countries conducted on behalf of Devirex by a specialist market research group in UK has shown that the incidence of cold sore outbreak frequency in the various populations is consistent. This was further reinforced by later studies in Asia which revealed that Asian populations mirrored that of the Europeans. Epidemiological studies of HSV-1 infection rates across the world supports the view that this pattern is repeated everywhere 1) . Recurrent herpes simplex labialis is therefore a major concern to sufferers because of its impact on individuals and a problem of public health as the spread of the infection is associated with worsening of symptoms in other major diseases.

The herpes-simples-virus (HSV-1) is a highly infectious virus, the significance of this can be illustrated by the following statistics;

  • 87 per cent of all populations carry antibodies to the virus – they are infected  2 ,
  • 23 per cent of the population have occasional breakouts every year  3 ,
  • 10 per cent of the population suffer numerous breakouts every year, i.e. the UK (60m population.) has 6 million frequent sufferers – the USA has 32 million, the EU 50 million  4 .

As the virus cannot be eradicated sufferers will exhibit symptoms regularly (often monthly) throughout decades of their lives as the virus periodically reactivates to multiply itself. Currently available products have been developed with a focus on pharmaceutical intervention in replication of the virus, which occurs after the beginning of the outbreak, and therefore have, only the minimal effect of reducing the length and intensity of the outbreak in the order of 1-2 days over a week or more. They have shown no ability to affect the initiation of outbreaks.

Thus, the presently accepted view of a market for cold sore products is defined by a treatment paradigm. The advent of lipivir® alters this status quo by bringing a wholly new dimension and approach to dealing with cold sores: Prevention.

Market statistics for the old products thus reflect a minimum case as use of antiviral products and patches have been abandoned by a great many sufferers as evidenced by lipivir® users quotes on the Company’s website:

“Nothing else works – lipivir® is wonderful!” (etc. etc.)

The potential market for lipivir® therefore consists of an aggregation of several groups of people many of whom are not reflected in sales statistics for the old products. All people currently using the old products are of course available to lipivir® marketing as, rather than substituting their use in the treatment paradigm customers can be encouraged to buy lipivir® as well as the previous brands and avoid a recurrence. They can be identified by retargeting. Lapsed customers of the old products can be encouraged to try lipivir® by public relations campaigns and retargeting of associated purchases and social media links.

New customers (first time sufferers) searching for a solution will find lipivir® through web searching.

Thus, for each country market ~10 per cent of the population is a potential repeat customer for lipivir®. Each 5-gram tube should last for three months meaning four purchases per year. The use of the multiple pack purchase option in the UK shows that many customers take this option after one or two trial purchases.

Infrequent customers (from the 23 per cent occasional sufferer group) will likely buy 1-2 tubes per year as experience shows that partially used tubes are discarded after about six months due to appearance. The maximum potential for sales can thus be calculated based on the population statistics for each country, e.g. 10 per cent of UK is 6 million, multiplied by 4 tubes per annum = 24 million tubes; 23 per cent of UK 13.8 million, multiplied by and assumed average of 1.5 tubes per annum = 20.7 million tubes.

Hence at an average retail price of GBP 18 the value of 44.7 million tubes would – only in the UK – be GBP 800 million per annum. Based on the same assumptions, Devirex estimates the annual market value in the EU of over 6.7 billion.

Needless to say, Devirex’ forecasts for actual lipivir® sales in the coming years are a fraction of this number and depend very heavily on the Company’s ability to contact potential customers in large numbers and to convey the benefits of lipivir® to them successfully. Even modest success can bring excellent returns from this market alone. Expansion to several EU markets and to Asia will markedly enhance this prospect.


1   Johns Hopkins Medical library 2017

2   Johns Hopkins Medical library 2017

3  WHO 2012

4  WHO 2017