Darmstadt, Germany, and London, UK, November 28, 2014 – The Consumer Health division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today hosted a top level debate on key future aspects of the OTC (over-the-counter) sector, at the Science Museum, London, UK. Featuring contributions from leading analysts, professional representatives and patient groups, the event combined the experience and views of Consumer Health’s senior management team with external perspectives on the major pressures and influences facing the industry.

Commenting on today’s event and the publication of the third-quarter results earlier this month Uta Kemmerich-Keil, Chief Executive Officer and President of Consumer Health at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, said: “Today’s debate is an important milestone for our Consumer Health division, as we become increasingly important players in the OTC sector. We hope that by bringing together leading stakeholders from the worlds of business, pharmacy and patient organizations, more clarity will emerge about the key pressures and opportunities that lie ahead for our sector. In light of our positive business results in the third quarter and throughout the entire year, these influences are ever more important for mapping out a successful path ahead for our company and for the sector.”

Major challenges, major opportunities
A dynamic business environment
As a sector, consumer health has seen significant transactional activity in the last year, with mergers and acquisitions influencing market share. For the Consumer Health division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, change and growth in operations has been driven by the incorporation of new brands, transferred from the biopharmaceuticals division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. This has helped drive a shift towards greater revenues from emerging markets. The division’s strategy has successfully rested on the ‘3x3’ principle – a focus on at least 3 leading consumer brands and a minimum market share of 3% per key market.

Debate on the business environment at today’s event looked at the implications of such strategic approaches for consumers – and how likely it is that major change will be seen in the years ahead.

Increasing importance of healthcare professionals
As a company founded on the principles of pharmacy, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has always believed in the central role of the healthcare professional in providing advice and guidance to consumers and patients on their choices. During today’s event, delegates discussed the changing role of pharmacists in providing advice and support to the community.

Commenting on this trend, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and guest speaker Ash Soni said: “Pharmacists are often the first port of call for those concerned about their health and can provide invaluable advice and support in an accessible setting. For the patient this provides assurance and a trusted source of information. For consumer health companies, pharmacists are a vital link between them and their customers – dispensing advice that patients rely on.”

Empowered and active consumers
Whether evolutionary or revolutionary, the changing role of consumer behavior is influencing the OTC sector as well. With patients increasingly willing to navigate their own health journey, the demand for information and choice has never been so high.

Dr. Ian Banks, President of the European Men’s Health Forum and a guest panelist at the debate, stated that: “Many people are interested in proactively maintaining their own health – a trend which can only improve outcomes and wellbeing. However, many do not access health services at all, and it is these hard to reach groups which are most in need of pharmacy and primary care services. Striking a balance between health awareness and creating unnecessary demand is one of the key challenges facing the sector.”

Innovating into a leadership position
For the Consumer Health division at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, 2014 has seen the launch of new product innovations built on feedback from consumers. This has helped the company gain market share in a highly competitive environment, driven by the increasing importance of consumer trends and demands.

A notable example was the launch of Seven Seas Perfect7 – a product specifically tailored to help meet the needs of women and men in their advanced adulthood stage. The two Perfect7 offerings – one specifically for women and one for men – combine natural sources of marine oils rich in Omega-3 with key vitamins and minerals.

This innovation was driven by in-depth consumer insights generated through extensive consumer research activities that guided both Research & Development and Marketing to address the immediate consumer desire of staying and feeling “younger for longer”. And it is an insightful example of the new consumer-focused innovation approach at the Consumer Health division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

Leading discussion through financial success
The Consumer Health division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is playing an increasingly active role in the sector, not just through facilitating debate on its future, but through continued financial success based on the relentless focus on key strategic brands and new product innovations.

In the third quarter of 2014, the division reported sound organic growth of 1.4% versus a very strong Q3 2013, totaling 5% year-to-date growth. Total sales stand at € 569.1 million year to date, versus € 561.8 million for the same time in 2013. Sales for the quarter stand at € 204.1 million, driven by strong growth particularly in emerging markets such as Brazil, Venezuela, Malaysia, Indonesia and South Africa.

Among the division’s strategic brands, significant growth was experienced on Femibion, Seven Seas and Neurobion. The third quarter of 2014 also reported EBITDA pre one-time items of € 48.6 million, down 16.5% on last year’s very strong third quarter.

Notes for editors
The top level debate entitled “Trends, challenges and opportunities in consumer health: evolution or revolution” took place at the Science Museum in London, United Kingdom, November 28, 2014. Further information, including photos and video are available here.
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Photos and video footage can be found here

Consumer Health Division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Brands of the Consumer Health division, such as Neurobion, Bion, Nasivin, Seven Seas, Dolo-Neurobion, and Femibion are innovative leaders in key markets, backed by science and trusted by consumers worldwide. The Consumer Health division with around 2,000 employees is active in more than 40 markets world-wide. Since 2014, the portfolio comprises of brands with annual total sales of over $ 1 billion. Consumer Health is a division of the Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, with global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany.