Merck’s Consumer Health division sparks debate on the future of the OTC sector

  • Consumer Health division hosts top level debate on key aspects of
    the industry
  • Speakers and delegates discuss whether sector is undergoing evolutionary change or a revolutionary shift in behaviors
  • Q3 figures illustrate continuing success of division with solid
    year-on-year growth reported

DARMSTADT, Germany & LONDON--()--Merck’s Consumer Health division today hosted a top level debate on key future aspects of the OTC sector, at the Science Museum, London, UK. Featuring contributions from leading analysts, professional representatives and patient groups, the event combined the experience and views of Merck Consumer Health’s senior management team with external perspectives on the major pressures and influences facing the industry.

Commenting on today’s event and the publication of the results earlier this month Uta Kemmerich-Keil, Chief Executive Officer and President of Consumer Health, said: “Today’s debate is an important milestone for Merck’s Consumer Health division, as we become increasingly important players in the OTC sector. We hope that by bringing together leading stakeholders from the worlds of business, pharmacy and patient organizations, more clarity will emerge about the key pressures and opportunities that lie ahead for our sector. In light of our positive business results in Q3 and throughout the entire year, these influences are ever more important for mapping out a successful path ahead for our company and for the sector.”

Major challenges, major opportunities
A dynamic business environment
As a sector, consumer health has seen significant transactional activity in the last year, with mergers and acquisitions influencing market share. For Merck’s Consumer Health division, change and growth in operations has been driven by the incorporation of new brands, transferred from Merck Serono. This has helped drive a shift towards greater revenues from emerging markets. The division’s strategy has successfully rested on the ‘3x3’ principle – a focus on at least 3 leading consumer brands and a minimum market share of 3% per key market.

Debate on the business environment at today’s event looked at the implications of such strategic approaches for consumers – and how likely it is that major change will be seen in the years ahead.

Increasing importance of healthcare professionals
As a company founded on the principles of pharmacy, Merck has always believed in the central role of the healthcare professional in providing advice and guidance to consumers and patients on their choices. During today’s event, delegates discussed the changing role of pharmacists in providing advice and support to the community.

Commenting on this trend, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and guest speaker Mr Ash Soni said: “Pharmacists are often the first port of call for those concerned about their health and can provide invaluable advice and support in an accessible setting. For the patient this provides assurance and a trusted source of information. For consumer health companies, pharmacists are a vital link between them and their customers – dispensing advice that patients rely on.”

Empowered and active consumers
Whether evolutionary or revolutionary, the changing role of consumer behavior is influencing the OTC sector as well. With patients increasingly willing to navigate their own health journey, the demand for information and choice has never been so high.

Dr Ian Banks, President of the European Men’s Health Forum and a guest panelist at the debate, stated that: “Many people are interested in proactively maintaining their own health – a trend which can only improve outcomes and wellbeing. However, many do not access health services at all, and it is these hard to reach groups which are most in need of pharmacy and primary care services. Striking a balance between health awareness and creating unnecessary demand is one of the key challenges facing the sector.”

Innovating into a leadership position
For the Consumer Health division at Merck, 2014 has seen the launch of new product innovations built on feedback from consumers. This has helped the company gain market share in a highly competitive environment, driven by the increasing importance of consumer trends and demands.

A notable example was the launch of Seven Seas Perfect7 – a product specifically tailored to help meet the needs of women and men in their advanced adulthood stage. The two Perfect7 offerings – one specifically for women and one for men – combine natural sources of marine oils rich in Omega-3 with key vitamins and minerals.

This innovation was driven by in-depth consumer insights generated through extensive consumer research activities which guided both R&D and Marketing to address the immediate consumer desire of staying and feeling “younger for longer”. And it is an insightful example of the new consumer-focused innovation approach at Merck’s Consumer Health division.

Leading discussion through financial success
Merck’s Consumer Health division is playing an increasingly active role in the sector, not just through facilitating debate on its future, but through continued financial success based on the relentless focus on key strategic brands and new product innovations.

In the third quarter of 2014, the division reported sound organic growth of 1.4% versus a very strong Q3 2013, totaling 5% year to date growth. Total sales stand at € 569.1 million year to date, versus € 561.8 million for the same time in 2013. Sales for the quarter stand at € 204.1 million, driven by strong growth particularly in emerging markets such as Brazil, Venezuela, Malaysia, Indonesia and South Africa.

Amongst Merck’s strategic brands, significant growth was experienced on Femibion, Seven Seas and Neurobion. The third quarter of 2014 also reported EBITDA pre one-time items of € 48.6 million, down 16.5% on last year’s very strong third quarter.

Notes for editors

  • The top level debate entitled “Trends, challenges and opportunities in consumer health: evolution or revolution” took place at the Science Museum in London, United Kingdom, November 28, 2014. Further information, including photos and video are available here.
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  • Merck photos and video footage

Consumer Health Division of Merck
Brands of the Consumer Health division, such as Neurobion®, Bion®, Nasivin®, Seven Seas®, Dolo-Neurobion®, and Femibion® are innovative leaders in key markets, backed by science and trusted by consumers worldwide. The division Consumer Health with its around 2,000 employees is active in more than 40 markets world-wide. Since 2014, the portfolio comprises of brands with annual total sales of over $ 1 billion. Consumer Health is a division of the Merck Group with global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany.

All Merck Press Releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Website. Please go to www.merckgroup.com/subscribe to register online, change your selection or discontinue this service.

Merck is a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in the pharmaceutical, chemical and life science sectors. With its four divisions With its four divisions Merck Serono, Consumer Health, Performance Materials and Merck Millipore, Merck generated total revenues of € 11.1 billion in 2013. Around 39,000 Merck employees work in 66 countries to improve the quality of life for patients, to further the success of customers and to help meet global challenges. Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company – since 1668, the company has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Holding an approximately 70% interest, the founding family remains the majority owner of the company to this day. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany is holding the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States, where the company is known as Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

Contacts

Merck
Lars Atorf
Phone +49 6151 856-3114

Release Summary

Merck’s Consumer Health division sparks debate on the future of the OTC sector amid positive Q3 results

Contacts

Merck
Lars Atorf
Phone +49 6151 856-3114