Mosquito repellant sales boom in Brazil amid Zika scare

viernes 5 de febrero de 2016 00:22 GYT

By Luciana Bruno

RIO DE JANEIRO Feb 5 (Reuters) - Fear of the mosquito-borne Zika virus has Brazilians rushing to buy repellant, creating a shortage of some brands on pharmacy shelves and boosting sales for the industry - a trend some producers are preparing for elsewhere as the outbreak spreads.

Following the detection of Zika in April, sales of repellant in Brazil rose by one-third last year, according to consumer research firm Nielsen, doubling revenue for the sector to $55.7 million. Buying was also spurred by an increase in cases of dengue, another virus spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Sales have risen even more sharply since Brazilian authorities in November flagged a potential link between Zika and suspected cases of microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size in newborns that can result in developmental problems.

Raia Drogasil, Brazil's largest chain of pharmacies, said repellant sales in December jumped seven-fold from a year earlier.

Brazil's biggest retailer, the Pao de Acucar Group , said supermarket sales of repellant were up 120 percent in the first weeks of 2016, compared to the same period a year earlier. The rise was sharpest in the Northeast region at the centre of the outbreak, where sales rose fourfold, and in the Brazil's second city of Rio de Janeiro, where they tripled.

In Rio, protection against Zika is a top priority for the city's 6.5 million inhabitants and hundreds of thousands of tourists as the country's biggest Carnival celebration kicks off on Friday. Rio will also host the Olympic Games in August.

Even at small local pharmacies in Rio, waiting lists for the most sought-after repellant, Exposis, stretch to hundreds of names, with expectant mothers and their families rushing from store to store in search of the product.

Exposis, developed by France's Osler, has received media attention in Brazil because it is the only brand on the market with the active ingredient Icaridin. Many Brazilians consider it the most effective repellant against the Aedes mosquito, though studies suggest its efficacy is similar to brands using DEET.   Continuación...