OTCs are in action for political gain, with US Republican Senate candidates in four states proposing the oral contraceptives should be switched from Rx-to-OTC to expand access for consumers, whilst diverting free Rx OCs for consumers from mandated health insurance coverage, according to a Wall Street Journal article published on the 10th of September.
Under the Democrat-supported Affordable Care Act, Rx oral contraceptives are a preventive health service and, as such, are covered with no out-of-pocket cost to women. Many opponents of the ACA, including Republicans and health insurers, oppose this benefit. Of course, this opposition does not play well with some voters, including women who are eligible for the OC benefits. By calling for OCs to be switched to OTC, candidates are hoping to appease voters with more convenient access, while gratifying insurance companies by taking the Rx OCs off their benefits list.
Not so fast, though, says the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists. The candidates’ use of the respected medical group’s past endorsement of OTC OCs to justify the switch may backfire. Dr John C Jennings, President of the ACOG, rebuked the candidates, commenting: “We feel strongly … that OTC access to contraceptives should be part of a broader dialogue about improving women’s healthcare, preventing unintended pregnancies and increasing use of contraception, including long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). Over-the-counter access should not be used as a political tool by candidates or by elected officials.”
Ultimately, it’s a risk-benefit decision to be made by the FDA based on scientific and consumer studies, and there appears to be no such application on the docket. However, we at Nicholas Hall & Company believe OCs will switch eventually. Last spring, OTC INSIGHT Asia Pacific reported that the progressive Medicines Classification Committee in New Zealand, which often serves as a bellwether for Rx-to-OTC switches, said the proposed switch of several OCs to pharmacy-only classification “could work” if the applicant, Green Cross Health, included more collaboration with GPs in its proposal.
This week the people of Scotland will decide whether to end the country’s 300-year+ political union with England and the rest of the UK. As a Scot without a vote – owing to my residence in England – I’ve been watching from the sidelines while the debate has swirled around fundamental issues such as currency, the economy, EU membership and defence.
Healthcare – in particular, the NHS – has also been a key issue. This is despite the fact that, in the short-term at least, day-to-day healthcare provision will be unaffected, as the NHS and wider healthcare policy are already fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament. In addition, the Scottish Government intends to continue using the MHRA as medicines regulator, which should hopefully prevent a divergence in medicines regulation and access (imagine the absurdity of a medicine being deemed safe for OTC distribution in England but not Scotland …).
One can only guess how independence could affect health provision in Scotland in the long-term. Scotland currently enjoys higher NHS spending per head of population than England, while the Scottish Government has introduced flagship policies such as “free” prescriptions and personal care for the elderly (there’s nothing free about it of course, as patients pay for it through taxation), which it claims will be maintained if Scotland goes it alone. Opponents have questioned the affordability of such policies, casting doubt on the pro-independence camp’s estimates regarding the income it will receive through oil revenue and job creation.
What is clear, no matter which way the vote goes, is that Scotland will continue to face some strong public health challenges, with life expectancy remaining below that of the UK average for both men and women. For example, a report earlier in 2014 stated that Glasgow – Scotland’s largest city – has lower life expectancy than most of the developed world, with 25% of boys born there expected to die before the age of 65, owing mainly to poor lifestyle. Perhaps we’ll never find out how an independent Scotland would tackle these problems, but ultimately all that matters is that they are tackled.
Nicholas Hall’s Postcard from Istanbul: I’m here to scout venues for a May 2014 OTC Action Workshop (make a note in your diary!). We are also working with Turkish pharma association AIFD to lobby the Ministry of Health to set up a fully-functioning OTC sector and, along with Network Partner, Tulay Izbul, I’ll be feeling the pulse of the market on this trip.
The start of a new year is the ideal time to reflect on events of the previous 12 months and consider what might happen in the year ahead. INSIGHT Asia-Pacific has done just that in the just-published January edition by asking industry experts to share their views on the major trends & developments and their likely impacts in core regional OTC markets.
In the events team, we haven’t had time to think about the January blues; the awful weather or that payday seems to be further away than normal! I guess your wondering why? Well… I’m pleased to say it’s all down the constant flow of bookings to our OTC Conference & Action Workshop! With the host of guest speakers that will be presenting on innovation within the Consumer Healthcare, making this event a must attend. For more information on the guest speakers and their topics please see our brochure. There are still some great savings to be had and clearly our delegates are taking full advantage of them – and rightly so!! If you’re planning on attend any event this April, then make it this prestigious one, book early and make a saving!!
The latest Newsletter from Co-Editor on OTC.NewDirections, Nicola Watts.
OTC.NewDirections, welcomes you to 2014 with the first bulletin of the year, where we are looking at the latest in clinical trial data transparency. The UK government has said it is “surprised and concerned” that data is routinely withheld from the medical and academic community. Meanwhile, a provisional agreement between the European Parliament and Council of Ministers would require both Pharmaceutical companies and academic researchers to upload all their results to a publicly accessible database. Continue reading
As the second quarter results for most Pharmaceutical and Consumer Healthcare companies begin to come in, it affords us the perfect time to review how the overall global OTC market is currently standing. Taking the Mid-Year Sales Data for the global OTC market in the 12 months leading up to June 2013, shows that the market has grown by 4.9%; the highest growth since 2009.
Some of the standout results include:
- Latin America grew a staggering 15.2%, ahead of C & E Europe with 9.6% growth
- BRIC countries continue to perform significantly ahead of the market with Russia and Brazil particularly impressive, although this is partly thanks to prices increases.
- Japan (-0.9%), S Korea (-0.6%) and Spain (-0.9%) posted slight declines, while the collapse of OTx sales in France caused the non-Rx market to fall heavily
- Topping the Top 20 ranking are J&J, Bayer and Sanofi
- Valeant entered the Top 20 as a result of its acquisition of Bausch + Lomb
- Analgesics and GIs both posted 3.4% growth, while the large VMS category increased by 3.7% with probiotics (+13.8%) the star performer here
For more information on the Mid-Year Sales Data, please follow this link to the DB6 Global OTC Database website.