An ASMI snapshot of the non-prescription market shows pharmacy still gets the lion’s share of these segments
The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) has produced an industry overview of non-prescription products, and found that vitamins, minerals and supplements are the biggest sector – and still growing.
Prescription medicines make up 74% of the total pharmaceutical industry, the overview says. Of the remaining 26%—a $5.4 billion industry—bricks-and-mortar pharmacy retains 54% of the market (which includes Pharmacy Only and Pharmacist Only lines).
Supermarkets retained 24% of market share, followed by health food/complementary medicines practitioners, who distribute 10%. Supermarkets have grown largely at the expense of health food stores, the overview says, “due to their growing range (and space allocation) to complementary medicines”.
Online pharmacies distribute only 6% of overall non-prescription products.
Vitamins, minerals and supplements were the biggest segment by far, way ahead of the runners-up, which were skincare; coughs, colds and sinus; oral care; and analgesics.
For combined pharmacy and grocery channels the VMS market is worth approximately $1.8 billion in retail scan sales in Australia (IRI Full Year 2016).
“The VMS category has seen very strong growth over the last five years,” says ASMI marketing and business development director Filomena Maiese.
“This has primarily been driven by two factors. More Australian consumers are now using VMS, and doing so on a regular basis with 70% having used VMS over the last 12 months.
“In addition to this, demand for local VMS products from off shore markets, the rise of the Diagou shopper and increased VMS sales through pharmacy e-commerce channels has also significantly contributed to strong domestic VMS sales.”
She says pharmacists continue to be a trusted health care profession for consumers to turn to for information on complementary medicines.
“The network of community pharmacies provide consumers with an easily accessible health care professional who they can talk to regarding all their medicines—complementary medicines, as well as OTC and prescription medicines.
“With a growing consumer awareness of self-care and the role VMS can play in the prevention or management of minor ailments, especially as new research comes to light.
“Consequently, the growth of VMS is—and will continue to be—particularly strong in pharmacy, where consumers can have access a pharmacist to discuss where their VMS choice fits into a whole health plan.”
ASMI’s overview shows that every dollar spent on the top eight non-prescription product categories saves the Australian economy $4.
ASMI continues to support a “switch” agenda whereby future prescription-to-OTC candidates should be proactively identified.
“Prescription to OTC switch provides pharmacy with the opportunity expand their professional service offer front of shop and create more customer engagement opportunities by leveraging the professional role of the pharmacist,” Ms Maiese says.
“The next ‘wave’ of prescription to OTC switches will provide pharmacy with new OTC categories to drive further pharmacy front of shop growth.”