In light of increasing patent expiration rates, a switch from Rx to OTC proves to be a successful counter-strategy against generic erosion. As a result, marketers face challenges entering a new competitive environment. Our Consumer Health team has valuable experience in bridging the knowledge gap between healthcare and consumer markets to facilitate your decision making process.

Global trends

Upon patent expiry, pharmaceutical companies risk losing sales, highlighting the importance of implementing successful strategies for brand expansion. As a result, increased numbers of prescription drugs are being made available over the counter worldwide.

The Rx to OTC switch is a strategic option for extending a product's revenue stream for pharmaceutical companies. The movement to switch drugs from prescription to OTC status is consistent with the increasingly prevalent model of the consumer's central role in healthcare systems, and taking more control over their health. At SKIM we know that a thorough understanding of the opportunities and challenges in making the prescription to OTC switch is crucial to providing you with great answers.

Challenges to marketers

The decision to switch from Rx to OTC is a real challenge. Transition to an OTC market not only poses a risk of devaluating an Rx product, but, more importantly, also places the brand in a new competitive environment, namely the consumer market. 'Patients' become 'consumers', while OTC medications face new challenges competing not only against other pharmacological formulations, but often also against other treatment solutions such as functional foods and nutritional products.

SKIM's approach: tailored market research solutions bringing healthcare professionals and consumers together

The success of your Rx to OTC switch relies on a collaborative care model, involving co-operation between consumers, pharmacists and physicians. In certain indication areas relatives or patient associations may play also an important role in influencing treatment choice. Ultimately, the decision to enter the OTC market comes down to a assessment of demand for your product in this new environment. A well informed decision will be made on a forecast that accounts for the specific business drivers of the OTC market.

Having vast experience in conducting research among healthcare professionals, patient associations, patients as well as consumers, we have identified the best research approach to help you make a decision regarding an Rx to OTC switch.

Understanding the opportunities and implications of the Rx to OTC switch

We obtain in-depth insights into what motivates healthcare professionals to recommend a new OTC concept, patients to purchase it, and what barriers need to be overcome. We identify other relevant stakeholders and evaluate in detail the interaction between all parties involved in the treatment decision making process.

Among Healthcare professionals:

    • What is the perception of an OTC? product concept?
    • What target patient group is recognized by physicians for an OTC product?
    • What would trigger physicians to to recommend an OTC product to their patients?
    • What would be the expected acceptance of an OTC product?
    • Which other products in the market would it compete with?
    • Is there a risk of cannibalization of Rx product?

Among consumers:

    • Are patients aware of the risks related to their condition?
    • What are consumers' perceptions of their disease? How severe do they consider their
    • condition to be?
    • What is the perception of an OTC concept for their disease and is it well understood?
    • Is there willingness to pay for an OTC product? If so, how much?
    • Which other products in the market would it compete with?
    • What is the expected acceptance of an OTC product?

Expressing the potential of the switch in financial terms

We forecast the potential of an OTC concept and determine the optimal price by integrating consumers' and healthcare professionals' perspectives in a holistic market model. At SKIM, we excel in choice modelling, conjoint and pricing techniques, which are particularly suitable for this type of research questions. Study outcomes give a clear overview of expected market share and revenues and allow us to provide you with clear recommendations whether Rx to OTC switch is a right move to consider.

Topics: Consumer health

Robert Dossin

Written by Robert Dossin

Robert is Client Director responsible for overall client relations for SKIM’s European Healthcare practice. He is an Expert Marketer and has registered marketer status (RM) at the Dutch Marketing Institute NIMA in the Netherlands. Prior to joining SKIM, Robert worked in London for nearly 10 years, most recently as Managing Director at In Sites Consulting as global Healthcare lead. He’s also held senior marketing and market research IMS Health (now IQVIA), Forrester and Nissan. Robert holds a Masters in Science degree in Marketing and a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing in the UK, where he is also a Chartered Marketer and elected Fellow.

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