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Medications Made Available to All: OTC Status Boosts Global Drug Sales
02-05-2012: The conversion of prescription drugs to over-the-counter (OTC) status is becoming a hit among major pharmaceutical companies in developing countries, who are eager to expand their target audience, according to a new report by healthcare intelligence company GBI Research.
The new report, "Rx-to-OTC Switching Strategies - New Switching Opportunities in Weight Management and Smoking Cessation, but Encouraging the Uptake of Self-Medication Remains a Challenge", suggests that while the US and Western Europe currently dominate the OTC market, emerging regions are set to drive future growth as non-prescription medications gain popularity worldwide.
OTC drugs can be bought without prescription, and are widely used to treat a variety of minor ailments. Today, over 300,000 OTC medicines and ingredients are available for a broad range of conditions, including high cholesterol, weight management, skin disorders and respiratory infections.
OTC medicines are strictly monitored, and a number of regulatory processes have now been established to enable new and approved products to be reviewed in a clear and transparent manner. Since the late 1970s, over 100 prescription (Rx) products have been switched to OTC, and many more are under review. This change expands product accessibility and optimizes product life-cycle management (PLM). Many large pharmaceutical companies have already made strategic investments in OTC medicines, including Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Proctor & Gamble. Whilst their business strategies vary, success stems from a combination of careful product selection, optimal distribution and aggressive marketing.
The market will continue to be driven by a number of external factors, including the increasing and aging global population, emerging consumers, consumer empowerment and education, unmet medical needs, healthcare reforms, and governmental support, as well as companies actively managing their patent exposure, optimizing PLM and maximizing their advertising and marketing opportunities.
In 2010, the global OTC market was valued at an estimated $104 billion, following growth at a CAGR of 6.5% between 2006 and 2010. The US and Western Europe account for nearly 50% of sales, while Japan accounts for around 11%. Emerging economies represent only a small segment of global revenue, but their recent rate of growth supersedes that of more dominant regions. The OTC market is forecast to grow by a CAGR of 4.6% during 2011-2015 to generate global revenue of $124.8 billion. Growth will be driven by new product Rx-to-OTC switches, resulting in increased public access to a broader range of medicines.
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