The self-care market (ie OTC medicines, and non-prescription food supplements and medical devices) grew 7.1% by value in 2021, according to NèreS (the association representing pharmaceutical companies producing and marketing selfcare products available in pharmacies). Sales of food supplements increased 10.1% while medical devices (including Covid-19 self-test kits) recorded growth of 16.5%. Value sales of OTC medicines increased by 2.2%. Pain relief, respiratory medicines and digestive products together accounted for 54.0% of the OTC medicines market. The year was also marked by a drop in the number of OTC medicines prescribed by a physician (-6.1%).
According to the association, the growth in the market was expected and can be explained by two factors:
- An increased focus on prevention among the population. In total 39.3% of self-care products sold in pharmacies in 2021 without a prescription were linked to prevention (compared to 34.0% in 2017).
- The launch of innovations, particularly in medical devices and food supplements eg thermometers and self-test kits linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. Products launched since 2019 account for 34.9% of the self-care medical devices market. By contrast, new OTC medicines launched since 2019 account for only 1.7% of the market. NèreS notes that this figure is “explained by a restrictive regulatory framework, particularly with regards to switches”. The association goes on to call for efforts to change this trend “to enable medicines to help respond to the difficulties encountered by the French people in terms of access to general practitioners”.
Ahead of the presidential elections, NèreS emphasises the importance of a “political and strategic vision” for self-care products. “This year’s elections represent a major opportunity to enhance the visibility of the value of self-care products and to finally recognise their contributions in the organisation of care today and tomorrow”, states Vincent Cotard, President of NèreS.
www.neres.fr, “2021: a renewed trust in selfcare products and an evidence of their importance for the French healthcare system”, 27th January 2022