Switch and focus on fun to drive sexual health OTC sales


Presenting his Infinity Zones at the 30th European CHC Conference in Vienna, Nicholas Hall indicated that the OTC sexual health category – including oral contraceptives, morning-after pill and erectile dysfunction treatments, as well as condoms and other barrier method products – could be worth €10bn within the next 10 years.

Rx-to-OTC switch will be key to unlocking the growth of OCs and ED treatments, with Pfizer leading the way after the switch of Viagra Connect (sildenafil) in the UK. Whether other marketers will follow suit remains an open question – Nicholas pointed out that Bayer has said it will not switch Levitra (vardenafil), while Sanofi is held up in regulatory with Cialis (tadalafil), as it attempts to make the case to the FDA for the pubic health advantages of ED products.

As well as switch, the way OTC sexual health products are promoted will also be an important factor in future growth of the category. Nicholas Hall was concerned that ED might become a miserable consumer healthcare category, more about treatment rather than pleasure, but Pfizer’s UK campaign for Viagra Connect indicated otherwise.

Switch and a change of mindset (at both regulatory and consumer level) could also unlock OTC growth of OCs. A Macquarie University study commissioned by Consumer Healthcare Products Australia and published in PharmacoEconomics in May 2019 suggests that reclassifying oral contraceptive pills from Rx to pharmacy-only could save A$96mn (US$66.4mn) a year in costs to the Australian healthcare system and save 22 lives in total over 35 years.

A Markov model was used to synthesise data from various sources, including the Household, Income & Labour Dynamics in Australia survey. The modelling suggests that reclassifying the pill would lead to an 8.3% fall in pregnancies, resulting in fewer miscarriages, terminations, ectopic pregnancies, stillbirths and other adverse events. CHP Australia CEO, Dr Deon Schoombie said: “Both sides of politics have recognised the potential benefit with the Queensland Labor Government instigating a trial for continued dispensing of oral contraceptives in April 2019; Federal Labor committing to tasking the TGA to investigate ways to increase access to oral contraceptives during the 2019 Federal Election; and the Liberal Opposition in Victoria committed to making oral contraceptives available OTC during the 2018 State Election.” 

As Nicholas Hall said, “With Rx-to-OTC switch at an all-time low globally, CHP Australia does well to remind us that oral contraception is an important growth opportunity. As with all future switches, the public health benefits will be as important as the net savings to society and the commercial opportunities for our industry.”

Sexual health will be one of the key topics in our upcoming report, Nicholas Hall’s New Paradigms for CHC 2019: Over the Horizon, written by Nicholas himself! Examine each aspect of the CHC industry in 20 chapters, with a focus on major issues including Regulation, Pharmacy Point-of-Care, M&A, Switch and much more. Nicholas will also unveil the “infinity zones” he has identified as being crucial to the future growth of the industry. In addition to this, you can upgrade your purchase to include a customised in-house presentation or webinar with Nicholas for an additional GB£10,000. To find out more or to place your order, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

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