James Dudley Management

James Dudley Management

Trends in Self Medication are Turning Around the European Non Prescription Gastro Intestinal Market

Low to negative growth in prescription business but strong trends in self medication are clearly indicated in European non prescription gastro intestinal products market.

Europe’s non-prescription gastro-intestinal products market is worth an estimated $1.48 billion in 1998. This represents about 14% of the total European non-prescription market and makes gastro-intestinal products as third largest category behind cough cold and respiratory products and pain relief.

Over the last two years European growth rates for the category halved compared to those between 1993 and 1995. This puts gastro-intestinal products at the bottom of the growth league for the five leading non-prescription categories. The main reasons for lack lustre growth are due to three factors says a major new study from James Dudley International Ltd – Gastro Intestinal Products in Self-medication – Europe 2003 series.

These are:-

  • Overall decline in prescription business especially for digestive remedies and
    laxatives across Europe as a whole, but especially in Belgium, Germany and the UK. (Graph 1)
  • Almost zero value growth for laxatives in Belgium, France and the UK.
  • Low growth in Belgium and negative growth in Germany for digestive remedies.

On the brighter side – Self-medication for gastro-intestinal products is showing positive growth right across the region.


Self-medication was not only responsible for holding the gastro-intestinal market together in the face of slowing prescription business over the last three years it is potentially the market driver for the next five year says James Dudley one of the authors of the report.

The major problem market is Germany which accounts for just under 20% of the European gastro-intestinal non Rx market. However, this is the case for all other categories.

Market decline in Germany is due to two factors imposing on each other, namely:

  • Healthcare reforms which have undermined growth across the whole pharmaceutical industry
  • Over fragmentation of the market, particularly for laxatives and digestive remedies.

The report shows that Germany was the worst performing major European market in terms of growth between 1991 and 1997 with only 4% growth. This compares to the total European average of 41% over the same period.

Among Europe’s minor markets, Belgium scored worst in terms of growth with only 10% between 1991 and 1997 compared to its next door neighbour The Netherlands with 57%. Portugal scored the highest growth rate in Europe with 660% between 1991 and 1997. This is due to reclassification says the report.

In Central and Eastern Europe Poland achieved 260% value growth and the Czech Republic 125% over the 1991 to 1997 period.

The Dudley report put Rhône Poulenc Rorer top of the list of companies supplying the European non-prescription Gastro Intestinal market with almost 5% of the market. SmithKline Beecham is number two in Europe followed by Roche, Johnson and Johnson Merck and Reckitt and Colman. The combined share of the leading five players is just under 17%.

Laxatives which account for just under 40% of the European prescription gastro intestinal products market are expected to show around 21% growth to 2003. This compares with anti diarrhoea’s which while only accounting for 21% of the market should grow by over 35% over the same period. Antacids growth is also expected to recover through a strong shift to self medication.

The market report Gastro Intestinal Products in Self Medication to 2003 covers digestive remedies, antacids, OTC H2 receptor antagonists, laxatives and anti-diarrhoeals with market forecasts to 2003 for twelve European markets i.e.:-


  Belgium Italy Russia
  Czech Republic The Netherlands Slovak Republic
  France Poland Spain
  Germany Portugal United Kingdom

Gastro Intestinal Products in Self Medication in Europe to 2003 is priced at £1295 and $2625.

Graph 1: Gastro-intestinal Market % Value Growth Non-prescription Bound Market by Prescription and Self-medication Sales.

For April press release check the April release

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