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O-T-Cs to empower consumers.


MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Part of the solution to the problems of access and cost that beset the nation's health care system can be found in greater use of over-the-counter medications, an insight on which GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare is acting.

"Over-the-counter medications have a very important role to play in our health care system," said Colin Mackenzie, president of GSK Consumer Healthcare North America, during a recent interview. "They offer consumers immediate access to safe and effective medications without having to consult a physician. O-T-Cs also empower consumers to make informed choices and take better care of themselves and their families.

"The Consumer Healthcare Products Association [CHPA] has done quite a bit of research on the benefits and value of O-T-C medicines. Last year they found that 88% of physicians recommend that patients attempt to address minor ailments with self-care interventions, including the use of O-T-Cs, before seeking the advice of a health care professional."

He cited a study released by CHPA at the beginning of the year that highlights the value of nonprescription medicines. Among the key findings:

* O-T-Cs create $102 billion in annual savings relative to alternative treatments.

* For every $1 that is spent on nonprescription medicines, the U.S. health care system saves $6 to $7.

* O-T-Cs provide symptomatic relief for an estimated 60 million people who would otherwise not seek treatment if those medications were not available without a prescription.

"For those of us in the over-the-counter medicines business, we will be continually challenged to provide new thinking and creativity in providing health care solutions that serve consumer needs in this economically challenging environment," said Mackenzie.

More widespread realization of the positive impact of O-T-Cs in recent years has coincided with a revamping of GSK's corporate strategy. Nonprescription products have assumed a more prominent place in the company's thinking in light of the mounting challenges faced by all research-based pharmaceutical companies.

Noting that GSK's chief executive officer, Andrew Witty, has stated that the company's strategy for growth is to develop a diversified portfolio, Mackenzie said, "We have substantially increased our investment in higher-growth areas, including O-T-Cs. Our Consumer Healthcare business is strong and growing, and it continues to be a viable and important part of the GSK portfolio."

The overall strategic realignment at GSK has been accompanied by significant changes in its U.S. O-T-C business.

"We recently restructured and refocused our Consumer Healthcare business by concentrating our portfolio around four key categories--wellness, oral health, skin health and nutrition," Mackenzie explained. "That will allow us to become the world's most successful fast-moving consumer health care company, driven by science and values."

The revamping of the O-T-C business included the sale of 15 brands, among them Beano, Ecotrin, Fiber Choice and Tagament, a process that was finalized early this year.

"In 2011 we announced that we were focusing the Consumer Healthcare business on product categories, brands and markets where the company has the most depth and competitive advantage, and with the best prospects for strong growth," said Mackenzie. "As a result, we have since divested a number of brands, and we will look to focus and grow our refined portfolio. The aim of the divestment is to realize value for shareholders, simplify the business and allow us to focus on priority brands and markets.

"As for future acquisitions or divestments, they must fit with our business strategy and drive toward our vision of becoming the world's first and best fast-moving consumer health care company. We are looking for great growth opportunities that complement our existing portfolio of brands."

Mackenzie's previous experience prepared him well for his current post, which he assumed in January 2011. From 2007 until that time, he directed GSK's U.S. oral care business, where he was responsible for a dramatic acceleration in the net sales growth rate. Prior to that Mackenzie was vice president and general manager of the parent company's operations in central and eastern Europe.

"We have a strong portfolio of products that consumers love," he said. "Our products are all about helping more people do more, feel better and live longer. That is our mission, and that is what motivates and drives me in the job I do every day."

Mackenzie understands that to succeed in meeting its objectives, GSK Consumer Healthcare needs to work closely with the merchants that carry its products. "The company values its retail partners and our shared goal of meeting consumer needs and expectations for trusted consumer health care products," he noted. "To help us get even closer to our customers, we are moving our retail teams to areas where our key retailers are located so that we can be even stronger partners.

"We are also relentlessly focused on strategies that deliver category growth for our retailer partners. Our goal is to be our retailer's partner of choice in delivering consumer-first focused strategies."
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Title Annotation:Supplier News
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Jun 25, 2012
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