Increasing consumer self care is a key driver of pharmacy growth

12 March 2015

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12 March 2015 - Increasing consumer self care is a key driver of pharmacy growth, said Mark Sargent, President of the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI), at APP 2015.

"More down-scheduling from prescription (Rx) to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and removal of S3 consumer communication restrictions could increase opportunities for consumer self care and fuel pharmacy growth," said Mr Sargent.
"There is a high level of acceptance of non-prescription medicines by consumers and significant pharmacy growth potential from increasingly health literate, time-poor consumers who prefer purchasing their medicines at a pharmacy rather than consulting their GP for minor conditions.

"This is borne out by recent research, which reveals that non-prescription medicines are taken regularly by one in nine consumers, with 80 per cent of adults and 40 per cent of children using them monthly1.

"However, the Federal Government's overly risk averse approach to scheduling policy for low risk OTC medicines is placing Australia behind the rest of the world on Rx to OTC switch and reducing consumer access to medicines.
"One of ASMI's top priorities is to pursue reforms in this area. We need a 'Switch Task Force', comprising a broad cross section of stakeholders, to reignite the switch agenda in Australia and drive policy changes.

"Reforms proposed by ASMI include development of scheduling policy; implementation of a supporting regulatory framework, and streamlining of processes.

"We also need to identify candidates for future switches through collaboration with consumers, pharmacists, GPs, industry and Federal and State governments.
"ASMI advocates for the removal of restrictions on the advertising of S3 medicines and, along with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, has proposed a new model of consumer communication that emphasises the educative role of the pharmacist.

"The model involves three elements: Information about the disease or condition, branded product information, and the key element - emphasising the role of the pharmacist in determining whether the medicine is appropriate for a particular consumer and/or condition.

"The wider availability of low risk, proven and affordable medicines has the potential to make a positive impact on individual and public health by providing consumers with easier, more convenient and faster access to therapeutic products to treat illness and maintain health.

"Increasing consumer access to medicines through regulatory reform will drive pharmacy growth," he added.

About ASMI: The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak body representing sponsors of non-prescription medicines - over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary medicines (CM). ASMI members make up 85 per cent of the $4bn Non-Prescription Medicines market. Membership totals 50 companies and ASMI members employ approximately 18,000 people with exports estimated at $1.2 billion annually. ASMI's mission is to advance consumer health through responsible self-care. This means driving a viable and responsible industry and empowering the consumer with evidence-based products and information with the aim of improving health and wellbeing. To find out more about ASMI or how to become an ASMI member, please visit (

1. Macquarie University. OTC Value Study. March 2014.
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