James Dudley Management

James Dudley Management

Poland's Self-Medication Market overtakes Spain in value Sales

Despite a cooling of market growth in 2000, the Polish $700 million plus self-medication market has shown quite amazing growth over recent years. It has now over taken Spain to become Europe’s fifth largest self-medication market in terms of $ value.

Yet over two thirds of Poland’s $ value growth has come from the country’s top ten most strongly performing companies. It is a remarkable fact that 40% of value growth since the end of 1997 can be attributed to just twelve brands. Furthermore new brands accounted for 30% of market growth.

These are some of the findings from a new market report from James Dudley Management published this week.

Graph 1: The Polish Non-Prescription Market 1996 - 2000

Source: @ James Dudley International Ltd. – The Future for Self-Medication in Poland – Spring 2001

The Polish self-medication market grew some 84% between 1996 and 2000 to reach an estimated $715 million. Growth has been in almost equal measure attributed to volume and value increases.


Poland is one of the most successful and open transition economies emerging from the old central and eastern European block, says the report. It is a market in which new foreign products have so far been easily assimilated. This has been as much the case for self-medication products as any other consumer categories.


Yet, while much of the new brand activity centred on Western companies in the early 1990’s, local Polish companies are now among the leaders in launching new products successfully. The locally owned company, US Pharmacia, being the best example.


The two largest growth categories in Poland are vitamins and minerals and analgesics and cold and ‘flu remedies. These contributed to 54% of value growth between 1998 and 2000. Other respiratory products, including sore throat products, decongestants and cough remedies, topical pain relief and sedatives were among the other leading growth categories.


Graph 2: The Main Sources of $ Market Growth in Poland 1998 - 2000


Source: © James Dudley International Ltd – The Future for Self-Medication in Poland – Spring 2001


The leading companies driving growth in Poland are Roche, US Pharmacia (a local Polish company) and Glaxo SmithKline.

Table 1

Companies Driving Growth in the Polish Self-Medication Market 1998 – 2000


Estimated % Growth

% Contribution to total market growth




US Pharmacia



Glaxo SmithKline



Bristol Myers-Squibb















Merck Kgaa



Warsaw Polfa






Source: © James Dudley International Ltd. – The Future for Self-Medication in Poland – Spring 2001

The ten top growth-driving companies in Poland contributed 67% to the value growth of the marketbetween 1998 and 2001.

New brand successes in Poland account for 30% of market growth between 1998 and 2001. The most successful so far have been Gripex from US Pharmacia, Fervex from Brisol Myers-Squibb, Fastum and Lioton from Menarini and Iliadin from Merck Kgaa.

Table 2

Most Successful New Brands in the Polish Self-Medication Market 2000




Est $ Value Millions


US Pharmacia



Bristol Myers-Squibb






Merck Kgaa








Source: © James Dudley International Ltd. – The Future for Self-Medication in Poland – Spring 2001

Prospects for the Future of Self-Medication in Poland

The future for self-medication in Poland remains positive, although the early growth rates are beginning to slow rapidly. In many ways these reflect both a maturity in the market overall, but also reflect the very narrow front of driving companies and brands, says the report.

While the more traditional areas of the market are at around their peak sales at present, there are still considerable opportunities to develop in such areas as antacids and skin care. Furthermore, there are opportunities to segment the major categories with innovative niche concepts and prescription-only medicine to OTC switches.

There is some concern over the lack of buoyancy in the Polish economy. Inflation is still running northwards of 7% and unemployment levels are rising.

However, it has to be borne in mind that some 45% of the Polish population fall outside those groups likely to purchase self-medication. This includes a large part of the agricultural community, the main source of low-income groups and unemployment.

It is also important to recognise that a political priority in Poland is to meet entry criteria to the European Union at the earliest possible date. Hence, fiscal strategy is largely about meeting these criteria.

The conclusion of the report ‘The Future for Self-Medication in Poland’ is that, while historic growth rates are unsustainable, the Polish market offers attractive short to medium term prospects. Providing that existing ‘healthy’ players recognise that there has to be a strategic shift from riding growth to managing market maturity, most should produce above average European results. The possibilities for successful new entrants into the Polish self-medication market still remain far better than for most other European states.

Details of the Report:

Title: The Future for Self-Medication in Poland - 2005

Published: End February 2001
Over 140 pages with 160 graphs, tables and figures
Price: £975 US$ 1,660

Return to Homepage