Almost SIX BILLION painkillers bought last year as Britons battle to cope with stresses of economic downturn
Almost six billion pain relief pills were bought last year as sales soared among Britons battling to cope with the stresses and strains of the economic downturn.
But increasing numbers of shoppers are turning to cheaper supermarket own-brand versions of their favourite medication in a bid to cut costs, according to a new report yesterday.
The latest pharmaceutical and retail sales trends from SymphonyIRI Group, the consumer goods and retail market measurement and insight consultancy, identifies a 4.1 per cent growth in the sales of pain relief pills by volume year on year.
In demand: The number of painkillers bought by Brits has risen with research citing the downturn in the economy
This equates to almost six billion adult oral analgesics being bought by Britons in 2011.
The total number of pills purchased in the period December 2010 to December 2011, is 5,946,988,544.
This is a 2.4 per cent increase in the value of sales year on year, with purchases being made in major multiple grocery retailers, chemists (including high street and independent pharmacies) and other retailers, which include independent grocers, for example.
The results of the research also indicate the impact that is being made by the retailer’s own label on national well-known brands, as more and more consumers choose to add own label Ibuprofen and Paracetamol products to their shopping baskets at the major multiple retailers.
As medication gets cheaper and becomes so readily accessible, more than 62 per cent of pills purchased were own label as opposed to well-known brands – nearly two thirds by volume sales but only one third by value sales.
Popular: Pharmacy shelves are now packed with various kinds of painkillers to appease the demand
'But brands are fighting back to reclaim their share of the market,' said Martin Wood, Business Director of Health at SymphonyIRI Group.
'Consumers develop trust in certain brands as they offer familiarity. If a brand is associated with a product that works well, and it is widely available, the consumer is less likely to switch to an unfamiliar product that might not work.
'Brands, such as Nurofen, have used innovation – such as new pill formats; new packs and formulations like the Nuromol drug combination launched this year.'
The research also shows a preference for Ibuprofen-based products over paracetamol-based products and an increase in uptake of soluble solutions, such as Solpadeine.
Encouraging results from the research report show that the number of people purchasing medication at their local independent pharmacy has remained static for the second year running, rather than declining as it has been doing for so many years.
Mr Wood added, 'The continued return to the local pharmacy for two years’ running is reflective of the current climate and subsequent shopper behaviour.
'As we experience the impact of the recession that is causing a rise in unemployment and more people with less money and more time, we see an increase in visits to the doctors and the submission of prescriptions at the local chemist, where additional purchases are made whilst in-store.
'Also, we have seen a trend for consumers to be more inclined to buy medication as and when they need it and that means a quick trip to the local high street.'