Q3 2017: Global OTC growth stays at 4.7%

According to the latest figures published by Nicholas Hall’s global OTC sales database DB6, the OTC market maintained 4.6% growth in MAT Q3 2017. Commenting on the results, DB6 VP Celine Waller said: “Russia remained the fastest-growing leading market, though its growth slowed slightly compared to MAT Q2 2017 (+17.3%). Brazil and Turkey (+13.1%) also both achieved double-digit growth. Growth in the US increased marginally, with an improved performance in cough & cold offset by continued weakness in gastrointestinals and dermatologicals. France and Australia (-0.7%) remained in decline – France owing to the poor performance of the large OTx sector and reverse switch of some cough ingredients, and Australia driven by a slowdown in demand from Chinese consumers buying VMS products for resale in China (daigou or ‘suitcase entrepreneurs’).”


Though OTC growth remains high in many of the Emerging Markets, the established markets of North America, Japan (+0.6%) and western Europe – notably Germany (+1.8%), France (-1.2%), Italy (+2.0) and UK (+1.7%) – remain relatively flat. Innovative Rx-to-OTC switches, such as the UK MHRA’s recent approval of the POM-to-P reclassification of Viagra Connect, or the emergence of new OTC categories, such as e-cigarettes or medical cannabis, offer the most promising route back to growth for many of these established OTC markets.

Nicholas Hall said: “Q3 data confirms 4.6% as the baseline for CHC growth, and frankly it’s not good enough!! Only the sleepiest or most risk-averse companies will accept competing in a market where growth is only modestly ahead of inflation + higher population. That is why the first serious step by Pfizer to switch Viagra is so important. Since we made our first detailed review of the ED category for a Big Pharma client exactly 5 years ago, we have been convinced that Viagra is potentially the world’s largest consumer health brand. Some might say that it already is, although that would be true only for the use of the Viagra brand name on the internet as most of the blue pills sold in that channel are not from Pfizer. As a legitimate CHC category, and with recreational use included — which Big Pharma companies dislike as they see ED brands as treatments — the overall CHC reproductive health category, including ED brands, condoms, oral contraceptives, EHC and conception products and diagnostics, could easily reach sales of US$20bn at MSP in all channels of distribution.”


Q1 2017: Early analysis of the global OTC performance


Nicholas Hall’s global OTC database, DB6, has just published its latest figures relating to the Q1 2017 performance of the OTC market, and below are some standout trends based on early analysis of the data. Over the coming weeks, our OTC INSIGHT research teams will be compiling the latest trend info at a regional and Top 20 country level, and we’ll alert you as soon as this analysis has been uploaded to the OTC DASHBOARD website.

1. Russia returns to higher growth (+18.2% MAT Q1 2017 vs +11.3% full-year 2016)

A key factor in the slightly improved performance of the global OTC market in the 12 months to end-March 2017 (+4.5%) vs full-year 2016 (+4.3%) was higher growth in Russia. While a modest upturn in the world’s No.1 OTC market, USA, was offset by decelerating growth for both No.2 market China and No.3 market Japan, it was the European countries – largely No.5 Russia, but also No.4 Germany – that accounted for the improved performance of the global OTC market in Q1 2017.

2. CCA growth at the heart of Europe’s revived fortunes in Q1 2017

Global CCA sales were up 4.7% in 2016, thanks to a strong end to the year, and this trend continued into the first quarter of 2017, with growth accelerating to 6.3% in the MAT Q1 2017 period. Europe was largely behind this upsurge, with CCA growth in Western Europe showing a marked improvement (+3.8%), while Central & Eastern Europe was the biggest source of dynamism (+17.8%), led by Russia and Poland. This trend extended to the rest of the northern hemisphere, with North America also reporting higher CCA growth (+4.4%) in the MAT Q1 2017 period, with Canada especially vibrant (+6.9%).

3. Global Top 5 stays the same, but J&J may overtake Sanofi by mid-year

While the Top 5 global OTC marketers – GSK, Bayer, Sanofi, J&J and Pfizer – remain fixed in position and adrift from the rest of the competition, the battle for the No.3 spot between Sanofi (+3.8%) and J&J (+4.1%) continues to intensify. On current trends, it looks as though J&J may overtake Sanofi by the end of Q2 2017, and we will confirm the outcome of this battle later in the year.

In the meantime, please check your weekly briefings and OTC DASHBOARD‘s Charts & Graphs archive for more early analysis of the Q1 2017 results over the coming weeks.

Q3 Results Reveal USA Slowdown


The Q3 2016 results are now available on Nicholas Hall’s DB6 database, and the trend information will soon be updated on the OTC DASHBOARD website. In this week’s blog, we take a closer look at the latest growth trends for the Top 20 OTC markets in the world.

Overall, the global OTC market performed steadily in Q3 2016 with a 4.3% rise, the same growth rate as we saw in Q2 2016. However, this performance can be seen as mediocre compared to the full-year 2015 period, when OTC sales were up by 5.5%.

The global No.1 market, USA, showed signs of deceleration in Q3, with sales up by only 2.2%. This is largely owing to the slowing down of sales for major switches, such as Flonase allergy remedy and Pfizer’s Nexium 24HR antacid. That said, the USA should enjoy an upturn in the new year with switches such as GSK’s Flonase Sensimist (allergy remedy) and Galderma’s Differin Gel (acne remedy) in the pipeline. Compared to other categories, Lifestyle OTCs in the USA showed continued dynamism in Q3 2016, with sales up by a steady 5.0%; this was owing in part to double-digit growth for obesity treatments (+43.4%).

China’s growth also continued to lose steam in Q3 2016, where sales were up by 6.0%. China’s OTC market continues to grow year-on-year, but in recent years growth has gradually slowed; this is considered to be owing to a weaker economy, new regulations and also the crackdown on MNCs and domestic companies. Weaker growth overall in Q3 came despite continued growth for analgesics, which were up by 8.4%, making it the most dynamic OTC category in China, thanks to high levels of innovation and advertising in this area.

In Q3, growth also weakened in Japan and Europe as a result of low levels of Rx-to-OTC switch activity and weak cough, cold & allergy growth in early 2016. Italy was an exception to sluggish growth in Europe, where sales of OTCs were up by 3.5%; this was thanks to strong growth for Lifestyle OTCs (+11.1%), with a particularly dynamic performance from emergency hormonal contraceptives, sales of which rose by 226%.

Latin America remains the strongest performing region, with growth up by 15%. This is thanks to significant growth from Venezuela, up by 39% in Q3, owing to high levels of inflation. Despite a tough economic climate in Brazil, the OTC market remains robust with sales up by 9.5%, as a result of increased awareness of health and wellbeing.

Elsewhere in Q3 2016, India’s growth accelerated with sales up by 9.5%, owing to a strong performance from gastrointestinals (+10.3%). Turkey also performed well with growth up by 6.8%, thanks to VMS sales and a strong upturn for Lifestyle OTCs.

OTCs in Action Episode 62: Countries claiming climbing CAGRs!


This week, OTCs are in Action all over the world as we post the top-performing markets in terms of compound annual growth rates. First, kudos to my colleagues on the DB6 OTC database team. Thanks to their amazing expertise and hard work, Nicholas Hall Companies has just published the DB6 global OTC database, which tracks sales at the brand level in 64 countries.

The leading OTC market in the world is the USA, with turnover of $31bn, while the smallest market is Slovenia, with OTC sales generating $61mn. Both are mature markets, with the US posting a CAGR of 3.3% from 2011-2015 — Slovenian OTCs were close behind, achieving growth of 3.2%.

Looking at the Emerging Markets, China’s performance was strong with CAGR of 7% and sales of $21.6bn last year. Russia’s CAGR was 12%, reaching $3.3bn in 2015. Brazil performed a point better with growth of 13% to achieve sales of $2.7bn, whilst India’s CAGR was significantly slower at 9% to generate sales of $2.6bn last year.

Turning to more mature markets, Japan’s OTC CAGR for the period was flat with sales of $7.1bn in 2015, while the $4.9bn Germany OTC cart sputtered forward with a CAGR of 2.3%. In France, CAGR was negative 1% to $3.9bn. The UK and Canada drifted equally with a 2.3% posted in both markets, with sales of $2.9bn and $2.1bn, respectively, in 2015.

Which markets were stimulated by Rx-to-OTC switches? Where in the Emerging Markets did Lifestyle OTCs outpace other categories? DB6 subscribers know the answers. Visit the DB6 OTC database 2016 website to learn more about this valuable service, used by leading OTC players around the world.

DB6 Global OTC Database

OTCs in Action Episode 52: Japanese tax tweak to raise OTC spending


This week, OTCs are in Action in Japan, where the government plans to reward self-medicating consumers with a tax deduction. Under current tax codes, Japanese consumers can deduct medical expenses over US$800 or so per year from taxable income, but OTC expenses are often not high enough to meet this threshold. A recently proposed tax incentive will require a minimum OTC expenditure of only about us$80 to qualify for the deduction – a benefit the government is hoping will nudge consumers with minor ailments away from expensive hospitals, and toward drugstores.

japan pic

According to Nikkei Asian Review: “The health ministry expects more than 10mn households to qualify for the deduction. If the break changes patient behaviour, the resulting drop in government medical spending could outweigh the expected tens of billions of yen in lost tax revenue. Reining in social insurance expenditures is also crucial to achieving the government’s goal of a primary surplus by fiscal 2020.”

Nichols Hall’s DB6 database shows that the US$7bn Japanese OTC market has been ailing with sales declines for the past several years – encouraging people to put OTCs in Action for financial rewards will be therapeutic for consumers, manufacturers and government.



OTCs in Action Episode 24: Worldwide sales up 4%


Nicholas Hall & Company has now published its global OTC sales database, DB6, and it was heartening to see that self-medication drove overall market growth of about 4% to $119bn in 2014. OTC sales in the US account for 25% of worldwide turnover, but growth there was only 2.7% in the past year.

So where are OTCs in Action? China, the second largest market with an 18% share, grew by 7%, while in Brazil OTCs grew by 11% to claim a 3% worldwide share. Close competitor, Russia, also took a 3% share with growth of 9%. That said, Brazil and Russia’s rate of growth has slowed considerably in the past year. The last BRICs market, India, saw sales increase by 8%, a bit slower than at its peak a few years ago as well. The Indian OTC market captures only a 2% share of the global OTC pie at the moment, but will become an increasingly important market as its economy develops.

In contrast, OTCs were not in Action in Japan and France, which have seen declining sales for several years, although they did level out with only slight drops in 2014 to claim a 6% share and 3.5% share of the world market, respectively.

Gastrointestinals were the star performers on the global stage last year, with a sales increase of 5.2%, to account for 12% of the market. Analgesics, another very mature category, grew by 4.9% for a 13% share. Skin care products turned in the next best performance with sales growth of 4.4% and a 14% share, while Lifestyle OTCs grew by 4.2% for a 9% share. Cough, cold & allergy products slowed to 3.7% growth to take a 20% share of the market, while the largest market, VMS, was weak with growth of 3.2% to take a 30% share.

Around the world, healthcare is shifting from clinics to kitchen counters as people take control of their therapeutic and wellness regimens at home. OTCs are the most effective and safest way to empower people to self-medicate and, at the same time, reduce government healthcare spending.

New regulations rocking the boat in Switzerland?

NicholasHallCo-AprilWhile preliminary figures for DB6 show only modest growth for Switzerland in 2014, recent developments in the Alpine state make for more exciting reading.

In December, the Swiss Parliament’s Upper House voted in favour of allowing all non-prescription medicines to be sold in drugstores, merging the Class C (pharmacy-only OTCs) and Class D categories (pharmacy + drugstore OTCs). The vote was made on the condition that the new larger category will be reviewed in the near future, to see which medicines might either be moved to the current Class E free sale category (which includes supermarkets) or reverse-switched, hopefully the former. In the short term, the measure should help to boost both overall OTC growth through increased availability, as well as the fortunes of the little over 500 drugstores in Switzerland, whose number has dwindled a little over the past few years.

As part of the same bill, the Upper House also passed a proposal giving pharmacists the ability to dispense a select list of Rx medicines to consumers without a prescription, which will depend on the pharmacists having already dealt with the purchasing consumer on a previous occasion. Given time and a healthy dose of Swiss caution from pharmacists, these medicines may also find their way on to the self-medication bill.

Meanwhile, the Swiss National Bank’s decision to remove the Swiss Franc’s cap against the Euro in January was a real thorn in the side of Swiss retailers on the nation’s borders, with numerous German pharmacists reporting floods of Swiss consumers pouring into Konstanz to stock up on cheap(er) OTCs. Whether these international pharmacy-shopping trips will continue in the long term remains to be seen, but it may take drugstores starting a price war on their new OTC options to keep the Swiss at home.