AESGP 57th Annual Meeting Review

From CHC Insight Europe Editor, Sarah Carter, who reports that the AESGP sees a brilliant future for self-care, but that the industry must continue to adapt.

Focusing on self-care in times of the pandemic and beyond, the 57th AESGP Annual Meeting discussed opportunities, challenges and lessons learnt. While the pandemic has caused significant disruption and altered behaviours, priorities and shopping habits, it has driven a surge in interest in self-care, with consumers increasingly looking to stay well and prevent illness. Birgit Schuhbauer, who has just been re-elected as AESGP President for the next two years, stated that the CHC industry has a “brilliant future ahead of us”.

The CHC industry has had to adapt to this changing landscape, although a number of speakers stressed that it must do so at a quicker pace as technology and evolving consumer demands continue to disrupt the traditional self-care model. AESGP Director General Jurate Svarcaite concluded that there is no going back to the old model, stressing that the “new normal” requires collaboration and partnership.

Speakers also touched upon the infodemic and the increasing consumer appetite for instant information, which European Medicines Agency Executive Director Emer Cooke said was difficult to manage when you try to have a “sound scientific basis for what you communicate”. However, the worrying spread of misinformation and disinformation means that increased and better communication is vital.

The Annual Meeting coincided with the long-awaited implementation of the new EU Medical Device Regulation; participants shared their excitement and optimism at the development and celebrated how much work had been done, but were keen to stress there remains a way to go, particularly in terms of harmonisation across Europe and the capacity of notified bodies.

There is still time to register for our free webinar on 30 June discussing the topline conclusions from our upcoming report on Eye Health! With no purchase necessary, you can register directly for the webinar here. For more information, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

AESGP and CHPA looking for way forward on CBD

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One of the Infinity Zones presented by Nicholas Hall at the 30th European CHC Conference in Vienna, medical cannabis has arguably the most potential to transform the consumer healthcare market. However, as Nicholas conceded, the science still has a long way to go and the regulatory path forward remains uncertain.

Nicholas sees the medical cannabis category eventually subdividing into five key segments: 1. Rx (already in existence), 2. Rx-to-OTC switches (expected after 2023), 3. VMS & topicals (2019 is a pivotal year for CBD in the US with CVS and Walgreens putting these supplements on sale), 4. CBD for beauty & food, and 5. Lifestyle Marijuana. 

Reporting back from last week’s AESGP meeting in Geneva, our INSIGHT Europe Editor Sarah Carter said: “Touching on CBD, delegates were in agreement with the myriad benefits and the huge growth potential of the market, but less clear on where we stand in terms of regulations.” 

New Paradigms 2019

Nicholas Hall wrote: Reading Sarah’s notes, I was interested to hear that Scott Melville made the comment, “Our industry knows how to take products from Rx to OTC, but not how to take something from illegal to legal.” Scott is President & CEO of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association in USA, and this idea was first raised in a leadership panel Scott asked me to moderate at the CHPA meeting in March, but it took me some weeks to really understand what was being said. Yes, we know how to make switches; unfortunately, there aren’t any! 2018 was the first year in living memory when new switches added nothing significant to CHC revenues in USA, the home of Switch.

On the other hand, CBD is being legitimised all over the world, including in about half of US states, and all the major drugstore chains have started pilot programmes to sell hemp and other CBD products where it is already legal. Medical cannabis is an express train that is gathering speed every day, with US$11bn of annual sales likely to be added to the global CHC market in the next decade. And that was last month’s forecast – I’m sure we would increase that number if we started afresh. Our industry dare not be left behind.

Medical cannabis 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.

AESGP meeting 2018: Key learnings

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OTC INSIGHT Europe Editor Sarah Carter reports back from this year’s 54th AESGP Annual Meeting, which was held in Amsterdam and served as a farewell to Dr Hubertus Cranz, who retired as Director General after 30 years in the role.

Below are 8 key learnings from the meeting:

  1. Representatives from Pfizer and Hexal / Sandoz demonstrated how Rx-to-OTC switch can act as a growth driver for the consumer healthcare industry, with Nexium Control (EU Centralised Switch) and MometaHexal (Germany) given as case studies. Both asserted that the Rx heritage of the brands was instrumental in their successful switch, with both market leaders in their respective Rx spheres.
  2. However, while switch offers growth opportunities, several speakers stressed that the limited 1-year data exclusivity available with a switched product in the EU can deter marketers from making the timely and costly investment needed to switch their product.
  3. Digitalisation has transformed the rules of the healthcare industry and education. According to Google, search engines and online videos are the most important touch points for OTC purchasers, with one in 20 searches on Google related to health. In 2017, there were 40bn healthcare queries in EMEA alone.
  4. The global volume of healthcare data doubles every 18 months. It is crucial that we build trust with consumers regarding Big Data, ensuring that our industry uses this in a responsible manner, particularly salient given the introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation on 25 May 2018.
  5. Low levels of health literacy act as a barrier to self-care. We must empower consumers with the tools and knowledge necessary to play an active role in their health management, healthy ageing and prevention. Healthcare systems need conscious individuals who actively pursue a healthy lifestyle, and seek HCP advice where necessary.
  6. Technology such as wearables and apps has helped to raise health awareness and engagement among consumers, driving the trend for wellness and encouraging people to become key actors in their health management. In the industry, we see increasing purchases of long-term preventive products, rather than OTC treatments.
  7. It is vital that we understand the consumer at a much deeper level than we have done historically, as they no longer want to be sold to, but engaged with. The advent of Big Data and AI deliver us new tools to generate insights and ultimately create more meaningful connections and stronger relationships.
  8. There is little to report on regulations — still no decision on botanicals, and no real update on medical device regulations.

Only two weeks to go until the annual North American OTC Conference! Hosted by Nicholas Hall and Everything Health in Morristown, New Jersey, 20-21 June, this highly-anticipated meeting will review crucial topics impacting the competitive landscape around the central theme of The Future of Consumer Self-care: New OTC Solutions. With topics on the agenda including the e-commerce revolution, a presentation on “Magical Marketing in Healthcare” from Google and a look at the industry’s ‘Switch wish list’, this promises to be an event you can’t afford to miss. To receive a copy of the full meeting agenda or to reserve your place now, contact lianne.hill@NicholasHall.com