With the increase in consumers looking online for healthcare products, analysts predict that multinational pharmaceutical companies will be looking to get more of their prescription-only products reclassified as over-the-counter ("OTC") medicines. By doing so, such medication will become easier and cheaper to obtain, boosting revenues for the pharmaceutical companies.
The fear in buying health products online is that one may be purchasing an adulterated or counterfeit product. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation, about half of the drugs sold over the Internet are counterfeits.
To address this, Singapore should consider switching certain prescription-only products to OTC status, so that there would be easier access to approved, safe medicines.
To prevent the abuse of OTC medicines, the Government would need to monitor drug usage and adverse reactions. Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies should also ensure they publish clear information and promote responsible self-medication.
The OTC or consumer health segment presents a new growth area for pharmaceutical companies, apart from new drug development and volume growth, especially with increased consumer awareness and the demand for self-medication.