The France consumer health market is forecast to be stable over the forecast period in constant value terms. Demand for consumer health products will be driven by the ageing population and the self-medication trend. However, the latter trend was rather lethargic going into 2012. Despite the fact that most chemists/pharmacies display a self-service area, the adoption of self-medication remains sluggish in France, mainly due to the ingrained socio-cultural patterns associated with drugs consumption. This French characteristic is likely to remain a key challenge for consumer health over the forecast period.
De-reimbursement continued throughout 2011-2012, generating slight current value growth of 1% for consumer health, along with the downwards trend of prescriptions. Value growth in consumer health was strongly linked to the price rises that resulted from de-reimbursement, and also to the high propensity of medical practitioners to prescribe partially refunded yet OTC medicines. With the arrival of the socialist government in May 2012, de-reimbursement continued, and a total of 60 drugs (mostly Rx) were struck off the official listing, thereby also impacting some consumer health categories, namely ear care, allergy eye care and vitamins and dietary supplements. In its horizon 2013 Social Security Law, the new socialist administration affirmed its willingness to refrain from de-reimbursement. However, it is most likely that waves of de-reimbursement will continue in France in the forecast period.
As the retail distribution pattern for consumer health in France continues to evolve, chemists/pharmacists have been compelled to step up their efforts to adapt and remain competitive. Even though the number of collective syndicates (regroupements de pharmacies) fell to 18 in early 2012, they have become more proactive in lobbying and taking positions over socio-political issues governing consumer health in France. The competition intensified over the review period, with the rapid growth of mega-pharmacies and parapharmacies, especially within hypermarkets and supermarkets. Such structural disruptions are encouraging traditional chemists/pharmacies to adopt marketing and management strategies, rather than simply relying on customer service, which is the traditional strength of these retailers.
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