Nonprescription Drug Sales Up 11%

Nonprescription Drug Sales Up 11%

Nonprescription Drug Sales Up 11 % Despite the vicissitudes in the general economy, the rate of growth in nonprescription drug sales has shown remarka...

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Nonprescription Drug Sales Up 11 % Despite the vicissitudes in the general economy, the rate of growth in nonprescription drug sales has shown remarkable stability over the last several years, increasing by $.7 billion in both 1982 and 1983. Last year's sales, according to the annual survey compiled by Charles H. Kline & Co., rose to $7.4 billion, up from $6.7 billion in 1982, and from $6.0 billion in 1981. The 1982-83 increase represents a gain of more than 11 %, which ·compares favorably with the overall rate of inflation in the United States cited by the company-about 5%. The increase in sales was spurred by four factors, according to the Kline analysis: • The trend toward marketing of nonprescription drugs directly to the consumer; • The trend toward self-medication; • Extensive promotion of newproduct entries, particularly in the cold medication, antacid, and laxative categories; • The increasing number of products moving from prescription to nonprescription status. Those with astute memories or ready access to last year's summary of the Kline report (American Pharmacy September 1983, p. 13) will note that this list of influential trends is precisely the same as last year's, except that last year a fifth trend had been discerned, concerning the introduction of "multi-system products." In fact, much of the data in the report is virtually unchanged from last year-for example, the 32 major suppliers of nonprescription products once again spent 12% of their total income from sales on media time and space. And again, the highest percentage of sales-30 %-were spent to promote one item, hemorrhoidal preparations. Other categories with heavy media expenditures in 1983 were sinus medications, analgesic rubs, and menstrual relief products.

American Pharmacy Vol. NS24, No . 8, August 1984/499

Private-Label Products One new developmen t being tracked by Kline is the growth of private-label drug sales. In 1983, roughly $835 million or 11 % of total nonprescription sales were for private-label products. Vitamins accounted for the vast majority of these products, followed distantly by "wets and drys," general pain relievers, laxatives, and cold medications. Although industry sources indicate that private-label products have grown at more than 20% over the last few years, sales of such products are expected to level off overall through 1988. However, better-thanaverage growth for these products is expected in the contact lens solution and antacid categories.

Company Rankings There was also some shuffling in terms of industry leaders in 1983. Bristol-Myers remains the leader in domestic sales of nonprescription

drugs; with approximately 9% of the total, with Abbott Laboratories second (8% of total sales), but several companies expanded their sales rapidly during 1983. For example, Burroughs Wellcome nearly doubled its sales in 1983. In addition, Sterling Drug moved from eighth to seventh, primarily from strong sales of analgesics. Ten of the leading 32 manufacturers grew faster than the average for the industry. Once again, Burroughs Wellcome grew the most, followed by Thompson Medical, which increased its sales by 35% due to rapid growth of appetite suppressant markets and sales of topical pre para tions. Sandoz ranks third with increased sales of its cough and cold products, followed by Abbott, which gained by 20 % due to rapid growth of prepared infant formula sales and increased consumption of eye care products. By 1988, Kline says that nonprescription sales will reach $11.4 billion, which represents a substantial gain over the estimate for 1987-$10 billion-made last year. This optimism is based on two factors: continued interest in self-medication and the movement of more prescription products to nonprescription status, especially ibuprofen.

U.S: Manufacturers ~ Sales Of Nonprescription Drugs, 1982-83 (In Millions 'of Manufacturers' Dollars) Product



Cough and cold preparations Allergy, asthma, and sinus products Internal ·analgesics Nutritional products Feminine products Topical, prod ucts Other products Digestive remedies

$1,002.0 162.0 1,085.0 2,290.0 238.0 836.0 233.5 836.0

$1,149.0 184.0 1,223.0 2,533.0 262.5 920.5 253.5 901.5



$7,427 ..0

% Growth 14.8% 13.6 12.7 10.6 10.3 10.0 8.6 7.8 11.1%