Elevating Role of Self-Care and Improving Regulatory Environment Could Relieve Pressure on Healthcare Systems Worldwide

LONDON, May 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

For medical trade media only 

- A white paper written by the Economist Intelligence Unit reports that improved
regulatory harmonisation may support patient empowerment and self-care, and finds that
the issue is not receiving enough attention 
- Self-care and improved access to consumer health can relieve pressure on health
systems providing economic and social benefits  
- The report, by RB in association with the Proprietary Association of Great Britain
(PAGB) and written by the Economist Intelligence Unit, calls for a more defined role
for self-care with the objective of designing optimal regulation to promote self-care,
while protecting patient safety 

A white paper, written by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and released today reports that greater regulatory harmonisation and access to non-prescription medicines as a whole could improve the ability of patients to care for themselves and reduce needless costs to society, health systems, individuals and companies. Consumer Health: time for a regulatory re-think?, which is based on in-depth interviews with international experts from industry bodies, regulators, academia and patient groups, concludes that self-care and the topic of consumer health regulation is not receiving sufficient attention.  

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Within the report, RB calls on all stakeholders to proactively take action and urges the World Health Organization (WHO), whose role it is to provide global leadership in public health, to work in partnership with stakeholders to facilitate a change. A set of WHO Guiding Principles is recommended, to which governments, industry, regulatory bodies and healthcare system decision makers can adhere to encourage self-care and make self-care more accessible to more people.

One of the many challenges that regulation for non-prescription medicines faces is the fact that the framework for reviewing OTC products is actually based on prescription medicines. The specific role of self-care is not clearly defined or recognised by decision makers. For the full potential of self-care to be reached, a tailored system to regulate non-prescription medicines is required.

The report shows that although the OTC sector has benefitted to a degree from various harmonisation initiatives centred on pharma as a whole, the range of regulatory issues and the way they interact make it difficult to foresee progress unless the OTC sector's specific issues are addressed separately.

Zephanie Jordan, Vice President, Global Regulatory Affairs, RB said, "There is a clear and apparent need for a people-centred approach to OTC regulation. We believe it's our responsibility to drive discussion on this topic and foster change. Until self-care is taken seriously at a national and international health and medicines policy level it will be difficult to break down many of the barriers to make self-care more accessible. We would like to see a system with the objective of designing the minimum necessary regulation to promote self-care while protecting people's safety."

The report includes industry voices on the next steps to addressing the barriers including:

1) Calling for governments to acknowledge and effectively build self-care into
national health policy
2) Establishing a defined role for self-care that will provide a platform to drive the
discussion on change
3) Agreeing to the objective of designing the minimum necessary regulation to promote
self-care while protecting patient safety
4) Creating a specialised regulatory approach designed to encourage mutual recognition,
help less developed regulatory systems to improve capacities, and genuinely encourage
enhanced consumer empowerment

"In addition to the economic benefits, self-care is what people want. With improved health literacy and support from pharmacists, self-care can result in healthier populations, stronger workforces and more sustainable health systems," said John Smith, CEO, Proprietary Association of Great Britain. "Governments need to do more to implement self-care policy and promote positive behaviour change," he added.  

Non-prescription, or over-the-counter (OTC), medicines are an essential part of the most widespread element of healthcare provision: self-care. Patient empowerment and the self-care agenda has come into focus due to increasing and wide-ranging pressures on health systems around the world. The strain on health resources and budgets is unprecedented and is set to continue given the expanding and ageing population. The value of self-care and self-medication is realised by people managing common minor ailments themselves and as a result, valuable medical resources can be redirected to more serious illness.

The economic impact of improved access to consumer health has been demonstrated by numerous studies which have found that:

- Minor ailments in primary care practice costs the UK NHS around GBP2bn (US$3.1bn)
in 2006-07[1]
- One in five consultations with Primary Care Practitioners (PCPs) and hospital
emergency departments could have been handled through self-care in UK[1]
- In US every dollar spent on OTC drugs led to health system savings of between six and
seven dollars[2]
- The shift of care to self-medication in the enlarged European Union by 5% would exceed
EUR16 billion in total annual savings[3]

The RB report, written by the EIU highlights many of the challenges and barriers resulting from an inconsistent and fragmented policy and regulatory environment which hamper access to consumer health and OTC innovations. The EIU recommends major steps towards stronger international discussion, cooperation and understanding to facilitate change.

About the Report  Consumer health: time for a regulatory re-think? was researched and written by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by RB in association with Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB). It looks at the changing healthcare environment, the role self-care plays and efforts at OTC regulatory harmonisation. The report draws on substantial desk research and in-depth interviews with 15 experts from groups including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Association of the European Self-Medication Industry, Pan American Health Organisation, Consumer Healthcare Products Association and IMS Health. The full report can be viewed and downloaded here http://www.rb.com/media/1646/rb-eiu-consumer-health-report.pdf.

About RB  RB* is the world's leading consumer health and hygiene company. The company has operations in over 60 countries, with headquarters in London, Dubai and Amsterdam, and sales in almost 200 countries. The company employs approximately 37,000 people worldwide. 

With a purpose of delivering innovative solutions for healthier lives and happier homes, RB is in the top 20 of companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. Today it is the global No 1 or No 2 in the majority of its fast-growing categories, driven by an exceptional rate of innovation. Its health, hygiene and home portfolio is led by 19 global Powerbrands of Nurofen, Strepsils, Gaviscon, Mucinex, Durex, Scholl, Clearasil, Lysol, Dettol, Veet, Harpic, Bang, Mortein, Finish, Vanish, Calgon, Air Wick, Woolite and French's.  80% of core revenues came from the health and hygiene categories of the portfolio.

For more information visit http://www.rb.com  

*RB is the trading name of Reckitt Benckiser group of companies

1. PAGB, Driving the self care agenda. Available at: http://www.pagb.co.uk/information/PDFs/AndyTismanarticle.pdf

2. Booz & Co, The Value of OTC Medicine to the United States, January 2012. Available at http://www.yourhealthathand.org/images/uploads/The_Value_of_OTC_Medicine_to_the_United_States_BoozCo.pdf

3. AESGP. Self-Care: A winning solution for Citizens, healthcare professionals, health systems. 2004





CONTACT: Media Contacts: SO What Global, Lee-Ann Cameron, +44 (0)208 0046256, +44(0)7736 295607

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