Over-the-Counter Drugs Market – Global Competitive Analysis

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Over-the-counter drugs, also known as non-prescription drugs, are available in pharmacies and other retail stores and can be used without being prescribed by a doctor. These drugs are critical components of the pharmaceutical industry as they are highly potent and have the capability to show effective results for simple diseases. The number of competitors diving into the large pool of pharmaceutical industry are increasing day-by-day making the industry a promising venture for new comers to capitalize upon. This review will help to attain a competitive analysis of developments such as strategic alliances, mergers and acquisition, joint ventures as well research and innovation leading to product development with respect to over-the-counter drugs market. According to Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the total U.S. sales for OTC medicines accounted for US$ 34,327 million in 2017.

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Competitive Analysis – The top 10 players operating in the global over-the-counter drugs market include:

  • Pfizer, Inc.,
  • Novartis AG
  • GlaxoSmithKline Plc
  • Bayer AG
  • Sanofi
  • Glenmark Pharmaceuticals
  • Merck KGaA
  • Teva Pharmaceuticals
  • Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc.
  • Boehringer Ingelheim
  1. Pfizer, Inc. – Pfizer, Inc. is a global leading manufacturer and distributor of over-the-counter drugs, managing its commercial operation through two major business segments namely, Pfizer Innovative Health and Pfizer Essential Health. OTC drugs contribute to a major part of Innovative Health Segment, comprising annual revenue of US$ 29,197 million in 2016. The company OTC drugs portfolio includes over 40 products, whereas the leading OTC brands that generated significant revenue for Pfizer included Advil (Ibuprofen capsules for migraine) and Centrum (Multivitamin Tablets), in 2016. Moreover, the company collaborated for the license of  Nexium OTC rights under the exclusive agreement with AstraZeneca Plc made in 2012, Pfizer paid US$ 93 Mn to AstraZeneca in April, 2016 as accrued milestone payments as per the norms of the agreement. Pfizer, Inc. adopts strategies such as entering into partnerships and collaborations with companies that adopts incorporation of novel, proprietary drug-delivery technologies as well as unique ingredients of the OTC drugs to expand their OTC product portfolio to retain their significance in global over-the-counter drugs market.
  2. Novartis AG – Novartis AG, is widely known for its research, development, manufacturing, and marketing of healthcare products across the globe. Novartis operates its drugs business through two major operating channels Innovative Medicine and Drugs manufactured by Sandoz which is a subsidiary of Novartis, has contributed to positioning the company as one of the top players in global Over-the-counter drugs market. In March 2015, Novartis OTC and GlaxoSmithKline Plc created a combined consumer healthcare business named GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Holdings Ltd, as a completely new entity, for which Novartis has an interest of 36.5% in the investment and profit shares and the resulting pre-tax income from this alliance was valued at US$ 5.9 billion in 2016. The company also markets and manufactures its products through Sandoz. Sandoz specializes in OTC medications for allergy and pain relief and is available in pharmacies across the world. The channel focuses on business expansion and distribution in the Central & Eastern Europe region, including Germany, as the company believes European region to be an integral part of the business and a potential market for growth of company’s business.
  3. GlaxoSmithKline Plc – GlaxoSmithKline, one of the renowned giant in pharmaceutical industry and over-the-counter drugs market is a global science-led company headquartered in Europe, which develops and manufactures pharmaceutical products, including vaccines, health-related consumer products, and over-the-counter medicines. The consumer healthcare business of GlaxoSmithKline is operated through its subsidiary named GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Holdings Ltd. the subsidiary is split into two equal businesses, namely Over-the-counter Medicines and Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), across four major categories of Oral Health, Wellness, Skin Health, and Nutrition. The company’s consumer healthcare business segment recorded annual sales of US$ 5,023 million in 2016, of which Europe contributed to the major share of around 30.4%, with U.S. accounting for 24.4% of the share. The company adopts strategy of expanding the business in a growing marketplace thereby developing products that responds to the challenges in Over-the-counter drugs sector that includes educating the users to prevent adverse side effects of these drugs when consumed inappropriately and others. The company also focusses on providing products at a sustainable price to help increase customer adoption and allow access to several patients around the world.
  4. Bayer AG – Bayer AG is a global life science company that has a history of over 150 years in areas of healthcare and agriculture. The company operates its business through four major segments namely, Pharmaceuticals, Consumer Health, Crop Science, and Animal Health. Over-the-counter drugs contribute to a major revenue share of the consumer health segment, which accounted for US$ 7,179.19 million in 2016. The company caters to the users of over-the-counter drugs market through Consumer Health segment that includes major non-prescription drugs and products in the dermatology, gastrointestinal, analgesic, cold, allergy, and sinus, and sun protection categories. The consumer health segment is responding to the challenge in public health care system with mainly non-prescription (OTC) brand products by providing the consumers with their corresponding self-care solutions that are easily available at the pharmacies and online drug stores. The core brands leading to organic growth of the company’s segment include Aspirin, Aleve, Canesten, Dr. Scholls, Coppertone, Elevit, Bepanthen, Alka-Seltzer, and Berocca. The company is investing in geographical expansion to strengthen its presence in the U.S. Brazil, Russia, and China through marketing innovations and novel digital offerings. For instance, the company introduced a number of new product line extensions in the U.S. of its existing brands, including ClariSpray in the Claritin portfolio added in April, 2016. The extension of Alka-Seltzer product family with the addition of Alka-Seltzer Plus as an OTC medicine for treatment of cold. Successful strategic implementation and new product development by the company is expected to significantly affect the growth of global over-the-counter drugs market.
  5. Sanofi – Sanofi is a global life science company based in France (Europe) that is aimed towards improving healthcare access to people. The company operates its business through two major segments namely, Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines. The company operates its over-the-counter business as a part of a major business segment named Consumer Healthcare (CHC). Sanofi focuses on partnerships and acquisitions to expand its consumer healthcare business. For instance, Sanofi completed acquisition of Boehringer Ingelheim’s CHC business in 2017, expand the company’s global footprint and product portfolio. In February 2017, Sanofi sold 5 of its over-the-counter drugs to Ipsen SA on closure of its asset swap with Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH. Ipsen SA was entitled for a payment of US$ 98.70 million to purchase the deal from Sanofi. The total revenue of the company’s consumer healthcare segment was valued at US$ 4,141.31 million in 2016. The company reported of good performance and growing sales in developing regions such as New Zealand and Australia. The major brands in the company’s OTC segment include Allegra, Doliprane, Essentiale, Nasacort, Maalox, Dorflex, and Lactacyd

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The global over-the-counter drugs market is highly competitive, owing to increasing adoption of personal healthcare and self-medication due to rising awareness among the people regarding health precautions and basic drug knowledge. Under such conditions, the competitors experience performance pressure in terms of pricing. Market players are thus focusing on development of OTC drugs in cost-effective way that will help to cater price-sensitive customers, in turn, significantly maintain and subsequently increase profit margins, especially in emerging economies.

Following is the Impact Analysis of the strategies employed by the competitors and its impact on the revenues and sales in the global over-the-counter drugs market.

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