In 2011 OTC (over-the-counter) product pharmacy sales in Central Europe (CE) were worth €4.4bn, a 5% year on year increase in euro. Between 2012 and 2014 the market should develop by around 7% on average per annum to €5.4bn in 2014, according to the latest report of PMR, a research and consulting company, which is entitled “OTC market in Central Europe 2012. Comparative analysis and development forecasts for 2012-2014”.
Romania the most promising OTC market in the region
According to PMR forecasts, the most attractive market in the next three years in the region, among the countries analysed, taking forecast market growth into account, will be Romania, where the market will develop relatively fast and reach the CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 12% between 2012 and 2014. There are several reasons for the fact that growth is faster than that of other countries. These include the lowest per capita OTC spending in CE, government policy which focuses on cheap medicines and stricter control of Rx distribution, which causes Romanian patients to buy OTC products more often, the expansion of pharmacy chains and difficulties in gaining access to doctors.
It is worthy of note that 2011 was the first year in which OTC sales growth rate in Romania exceeded those of their Rx counterparts.
In Hungary and the Czech Republic, the OTC market is expected to develop more slowly than elsewhere in CE between 2012 and 2014. In the former country the main reason for this is the worst economic situation in the region analysed. This will definitely cause a reduction in spending on the part of the population. In the Czech Republic the economic situation is also expected to be difficult and this, along with the quite high level of market saturation (the second highest OTC per capita spending in CE), will lead to a relatively low rate of growth on the OTC market during the period in question, even considering the increase in the VAT rate levied on medicines at the beginning of 2012.
According to PMR estimates, the OTC products market in the CE region was worth some €4.4bn in 2011, which represented an increase of approx. 5% year on year in euro terms. More than a half of this was generated by Poland. In 2011 Romania was the second largest OTC market in the region, with a share as a proportion of total sales of around 12%.
OTC online sales made legal in Bulgaria
Online sale of medicines operate in all CE countries analysed. Bulgaria is the latest country which legalised such sales.
The Medicinal Products in Human Medicine Act was amended in August 2011 to liberalise the online sale of OTC drugs and to enable pharmacies or drugstores holding a permit to sell OTC products online. Article 234 (which took effect in 5 August 2011) legalises the online sale of OTC drugs by operators with the relevant permits. However, the amendments to Decree 28, pertaining to the organisation of the activities of pharmacies, took effect in January 2012. For online sales, pharmacies would have their own dedicated websites, which would contain data on the owner and manager of the pharmacy, along with the exact names and prices of the products, the shipping costs, the method of payment and the manner in which the customer can return the product. Online pharmacies would be linked to the Bulgarian Drug Agency and subject to inspection by the Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Union.
Before 2012, the law which governed distance sales of OTC pharmaceuticals in Bulgaria was contradictory. The online sale of OTC drugs in Bulgaria was allowed by the Consumer Protection Law. The Medicinal Products Act explicitly prohibited online sales of Rx drugs but did not clearly forbid the online sale of OTC drugs, thus implicitly allowing this.
According to companies present on the OTC market in Bulgaria interviewed by PMR specifically for the purposes of this report, online shopping requires the development of a certain culture which is not yet prevalent in Bulgaria (as the online sale of OTC medicines has only recently been officially permitted).
In CE Poland and the Czech Republic have the most liberal laws: all OTC drugs can be sold online in these countries. The situation is almost the same in Slovakia: only those OTC medicines covered by obligatory health insurance cannot be sold online. In Hungary, a limited number of OTC drugs can be sold via online pharmacies. The list is the same as that for non-pharmacy sales.
In Romania, online sales are not explicitly banned and do, therefore, take place.
Total market value for 2012-2014 was calculated in accordance with 2011 average euro to local currency exchange rates. Total OTC market value in the chapter includes pharmacy sales of all OTC products.
This press release is based on information contained in the latest PMR report entitled “OTC market in Central Europe 2012. Comparative analysis and development forecasts for 2012-2014”.
You are welcome to contact the authors of the report:
Agnieszka Skonieczna, Senior Pharmaceutical Market Analyst
tel.: +48 12 618 90 65
Monika Stefańczyk, Head Pharmaceutical Market Analyst
tel.: +48 12 618 90 57
For more information about the report please contact:
tel.: +48 12 618 90 00
PMR permits the republishing of this press release in part or in whole provided that all portions of the text, graphics, diagrams and tables identify PMR in the proper format: “Source: PMR”. All citations should be accurate and quoted without manipulation and must not be used out of context. For more information about quoting PMR, please consult our Citation Policy.
PMR is a market research and consulting company active within over 25 countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Since 1995 we have assisted more than 500 global corporations and many other regional companies to continuously increase their market share, successfully enter new territories and optimise costs.
We specialise in construction, retail, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, IT and telecommunications. However, our experience extends to many other industries. Our 100 in-house professionals fluently speak together more than 15 languages. In addition to our tailored research and business consulting projects we also publish annually almost 100 ready sector reports and information services.
PMR Ltd. Sp. z o.o.
ul. Dekerta 24
tel.: +48 12 618 90 00 | fax: +48 12 618 90 08
 Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria.