CHPA: OTC industry well-positioned to seize self-care opportunity

NAPLES, Fla. — The Consumer Healthcare Products Association's Annual Executive Conference was sold out for the first time since 2001, CHPA president and CEO Scott Melville told a packed morning session, and that is a strong prognosticator as to the health and vitality of the self-care industry. 

Melville identified many OTC-friendly regulations that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014 associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. States will be required to cover smoking cessation under Medicaid; there will be a five-year national public education campaign promoting oral health; and there will be the expansion of Medicare coverage to include an annual wellness visit.

"I recently had [a wellness visit]," Melville said. "I walked out the door with two new supplement [recommendations]."

Looking ahead, business certainly looks promising. Greater consumer engagement and a focus on health cost-containment bodes well for the OTC industry noted Paul Sturman, CHPA chairman. "Today as many as 72% of Americans self-diagnose their ailments; 55% are visiting their doctors less frequently; and 69% are seeking a second or third opinion even after that doctor visit," Sturman said. 

Americans are looking for an OTC product as many as 26 times per year. They visit their doctors three times in a year. "By simple math that's almost six-times the opportunity "to influence the customer," Sturman said. 

"The consumer is very much at the center of this … self-care ecosystem," he said. Healthcare is no longer "compartmentalized," and that expands the opportunity to communicate OTC value beyond on-shelf communications. "The point of self-care is the new point of purchase," Sturman added. 

There is also much future potential with a broadening switch paradigm, according to Sturman. "Switch creates all kinds of possibilities to every one of you in this room," he said. 

On the regulatory front, Melville outlined CHPA's success in directly reaching teenagers most at risk to abuse medicines like dextromethorphan. "It is making a difference," he said. In the first five months CHPA has targeted teenagers with anti-abuse videos, 750,000 have downloaded the videos. Another 600,000 shared those videos with their friends. Most important, Melville stressed, is that 50% of the teens who engaged CHPA's anti-abuse campaign were less likely to abuse in the future. 

And 25 states now mandate participation in the National Precusor Log Exchange (NPLEx), up from seven two years ago, Melville noted. NPLEx is consumer-friendly and a more-viable alternative to prescription-only in controlling pseudoephedrine sales.  



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