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OTC drugs market boosted by growing patient demand

Published on 24/12/15 at 09:38am
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Credit: Flickr/e-Magine Art

Increasing pressures from customers, drug manufacturers and regulators to convert prescription medications to over-the-counter (OTC) non-prescription status is driving growth within the OTC drugs market.

According to a new report from business intelligence provider GBI Research, demand for OTC drugs is also rising due to patients taking a more proactive approach to treating their ailments.

GBI Research’s CBR Pharma report also states that the rising costs of healthcare will drive the OTC drugs market, as patients are encouraged to eschew prescription treatments for lower-priced alternatives.

Sumith Ladda, an analyst at GBI Research, says the benefits of using OTC over prescription drugs include easy accessibility, lower costs, convenience and customer-empowering qualities. For this reason, OTC drugs are lucrative products, and the increasing allowance of previously-expensive prescription products into the OTC drugs market is boosting the segment’s growth.

Ladda also believes that the kind of conditions traditionally treated by OTC products will shift in the near future. He comments: “To date, the OTC drugs market has primarily catered for common ailments such as coughs, colds and headaches, which are not perceived as requiring a visit to a medical practitioner. For the most part, the pharmaceutical industry is in agreement that the ‘easy’ prescription-to-OTC switches have been completed, and that the coming years will be focused on chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

“Indeed, pharmacists can expect to attend to rarer and more complex conditions, and as such will be a key part of the movement towards greater patient autonomy and expanded access to healthcare.”

With drug pricing in the US an ever-growing issue, cost-conscious insurance programs will drive this trend even further by encouraging consumers to self-treat, especially with regard to chronic conditions, by providing incentives for the use of newly-approved OTC drugs.

“This cultural shift towards greater self-reliance in healthcare means new competitors have identified the potential of OTC products, with many pursuing major acquisitions to gain a foothold for growth. Even food companies such as Danone and Nestle are focusing on OTC products, as they look to capitalise on growing consumer interest in personal wellbeing,” Ladda concludes.

Joel Levy

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