Global OTC market still subdued in Q2


New figures from Nicholas Hall’s OTC sales database DB6 reveal that, in MAT Q2 2019 (the 12 months to end-June 2019), the global OTC market remained subdued, recording an increase of just 3.6% to total US$137.9bn in turnover. North America generated growth of 2.6%, with USA (+2.7%) improving slightly compared to MAT Q1; however, the market continues to be held back by a lack of switch activity. Canada performed poorly with sales up by just 2.1%.

In Europe (+2.1%), the OTC market also remained sluggish, with most key markets posting low single-digit growth, while Russia (-0.6%), France (-1.4%) and Switzerland recorded declines. Germany (+0.1%), Italy (+2.6%) and the UK (+1.1%) all managed modest increases. Poland was the one bright spot with a rise of 7.9%, driven by high levels of NPD and Rx-to-OTC switch activity. Looking at the Middle East & Africa, Turkey (+15.8%) remained the fastest-growing of the Top 20 markets, driven by high inflation.

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As for Asia-Pacific, growth decelerated to 4.2%, with slowdowns recorded in China (+5.3%), India (+7.5%) and Australia (+1.6%), while sales in Japan (+0.9%) remained flat. Both China and India were impeded by a comparatively low-key cough & cold season and weakening economies. Latin America (+8.3%) continued to be the best performing region, with the two largest OTC markets Brazil (+7.7%) and Mexico (+9.3%) showing resilience in the face of a challenging macroeconomic landscape.

Vitamins, minerals & supplements still generate the largest share (30%) of the global OTC market by major category, but growth slowed in Q2 to 3.7%. Key categories like probiotics and multivitamins reported slowdowns in Q2 2019, especially in the USA, which is struggling this year to replicate the strong performance of its dietary supplements market in 2018.

Nicholas Hall’s Future Opportunities & Growth Drivers in VMS – A Strategic Review of Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements is now available! This all-new report analyses a range of VMS categories including multivitamins, probiotics, OTC tonic drinks, mineral supplements plus many others, alongside looking at the latest trends, brand studies and launch activity. Click here to purchase your copy or to take a look at the full table of contents! To find out more about this key report, or to order your copy, please contact

OTC In Action Episode 3: Skin care, lifestyle sales trends reflect consumer needs


This week, Nicholas Hall’s Global OTC database DB6 mid-year update shows that the global OTC market growth slowed to 3.8% in the 12 months to June 2014. Beyond the glum headlines, however, the mid-year report also identifies therapeutic subcategories that have posted healthy growth rates. OTCs are in action to offer consumers self care for real-life problems. For example, sales of general antifungals and eczema / psoriasis treatments increased by about 7%, helping the $18bn dermatologicals category record growth of almost 5%.

A similar growth rate was achieved in the $11.7bn Lifestyle OTCs category, with sales of emergency hormonal contraceptives and urinary products increasing by 8% and 7% respectively. In both cases, Rx-to-OTC switch has opened up consumer access to new treatments. The eye care and sleep aids & sedatives subcategories also increased by more than 6%, helping consumers treat life-disrupting conditions.
On a final note, the weak 2% growth for the $26.5mn global cough, cold & allergy category can be viewed as a blessing for flu sufferers, but it was inevitable that turnover would stabilise after the double-digit growth in the previous reporting period, especially in North America.

Overall, the gap between North America and E&SE Asia continues to close, with rapid growth in China and Indonesia driven by an emerging middle class. Meanwhile, OTC sales in Western Europe and Japan continue to generate low growth, as governments seek to trim healthcare budgets and economic growth remains slow.