Self-treatment on the rise in Spain

Related tags Cent Medicine

Changing lifestyles are driving self-medication in Spain, according
to a new report. More and more people are buying treatments over
the counter, particularly to help stop smoking, to help sleeping
and for eye care.

Changing lifestyles are driving self-medication in Spain, according to a new report.

The report by market research firm Euromonitor claims that smoking cessation aids, eye care and calming & sleeping supplements are leading growth in the Over The Counter (OTC) sector, with sales up by 11.1 per cent, 12.3 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

In Spain, pharmaceutical legislation also has a provision for herbal products, homeopathic remedies and vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are classified as medicinal if they contain the full Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) per dose and if they make medicinal claims, in which case they are classed as pure OTC products. Otherwise, they are classed as foodstuffs (dietary supplements) if they contain less than the RDA and do not make medicinal claims.

Indietary supplements, the most important developments consisted of the introduction of calcium supplements enriched with vitamin D, and designed as complementary treatments for those suffering from osteoporosis.

Total value sales of OTC healthcare stood at Euro1 billion in 2001, 3.7 per cent up on 2000, although significantly down on previous years' growth. The positive economic outlook, which further reduced the rate of unemployment, increased investment by the industry in advertising and promotion, and contributed positively to the performance of sales.

On the other hand, the mild winter recorded in 2001 depressed sales of cough, cold and allergy remedies, and along with a drop in prices prompted by the introduction of generics, tempered value growth of OTC healthcare sales.

Analgesics, medicated skin care and wound treatments occupied the middle ground, growing by 7.2 per cent, 8.3 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively. By contrast cough, cold and allergy remedies and ear care registered the poorest performance in 2001 their value sales dropping by 0.9 per cent and by 15.5 per cent, hampering growth in overall market value.

In cough, cold and allergy remedies, combination products accounted for the bulk of the developments, and line extensions favoured the inclusion of new flavours such as honey and lemon or the development of products targeted at children.

The report added that pharmacies continued to dominate OTC healthcare in Spain in 2001. With the exception of products such as cough, cold and allergy remedies, wound treatments, vitamins and calming and sleeping products, which can be found in supermarkets and herbolarios (healthfood shops), the vast majority of OTC healthcare products are sold exclusively through pharmacies.

In cough, cold and allergy remedies, supermarkets played an important role in the growth recorded in medicated confectionery, as they benefited from impulse purchasing, contributing to the downgrading of the product's medical status, and reducing its dependency on flu cycles.

In wound treatments, the mounting importance of hypermarkets and supermarkets in the wider retail environment resulted in an increase in volume sales but pressurised value growth.

Value sales of OTC healthcare products are expected to grow by 22 per cent in constant terms during the forecast period to 2006, enhancing moderately the performance recorded in the last few years of the review period, said Euromonitor.

The positive prospect will be underpinned by the favourable economic conditions which, despite tempering slightly the values recorded in 2000 and 2001, will still be strong enough to reduce unemployment and increase purchasing power. An additional factor playing a positive role in the performance of sales will be the ageing population, which will increase public expenditure on the health system and will put further pressure on the de-listing of reimbursable products and the de-regulation of the distribution network.

Smoking cessation aids, eye care and calming and sleeping products are likely to record the strongest growth, growing by 65 per cent, 43 per cent and 38 per cent in constant value terms respectively during the forecast period.

By contrast, digestive remedies will continue to be constrained by the importance of prescription-bound products over total sales, and will grow in constant value terms by a mere 10 per cent. Finally, ear care will record the weakest performance, with sales expected to decline by 36 per cent during the forecast period, mainly as a result of the old-fashioned image of drops, only recommended in cases of acute pain and for a short period of time.

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