Concern over suicides from paracetemol overdoses has dealt a surprise
blow to supermarkets’ efforts to steal share in the pharmaceuticals
The Medicines Control Agency, which polices the sector, wants retailers
to be restricted to selling packs of 12 tablets and pharmacies to packs
of 30, and wants them to demand a doctor’s prescriptions for higher
Two hundred and twenty people died in the UK last year from paracetemol
The MCA is to ask the industry to enforce the proposed new rules on a
voluntary basis, although the government could step in if there is
Such a move would be a major setback for supermarkets. Own-label
painkillers have battered their branded counterparts over the past year,
showing that publicity by the likes of Asda over cheaper retail versions
of key drugs is hitting home.
Own-label accounted for 19% of the pounds 216m market in the year to
October 6 - up from 17.1% over the same period the year before. The only
brand to show growth was Crookes Healthcare’s Nurofen, which expanded
distribution to supermarkets and CTNs.
Nurofen (which is based on ibuprofen, not paracetamol) has now edged
close to brand leader Whitehall Laboratories’ Anadin. The latter has
seen its share fall from 15.7% to 15.2%.
Whitehall’s marketing efforts are concentrated on the pounds 6m launch
of its top US seller Advil, set to grab share from all the top three
Asda has been active over the past year, promoting its own-label drugs
in an effort to encourage the abolition of the pharmaceutical industry’s
price-fixing agreement, Resale Price Maintenance.
See Analysis, page 16.