60 Years of Self-Care in Europe: celebrating AESGP

Brussels, 14 June 2024 – The Association of the European Self-Care Industry (AESGP) celebrated its 60th anniversary at its Annual Meeting held from June 4 to 6 in Brussels, Belgium. The milestone event attracted over 300 professionals from the self-care sector, including representatives from European institutions, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare professionals, medicines evaluation agencies, and national authorities.

Founded in Paris in 1964, at a time when “self-care” was often synonymous with home remedies, AESGP is today the voice of more than 2,000 companies active in the consumer healthcare sector in Europe, affiliated directly or indirectly through national associations. “Self-care” is now also a well-defined concept, recognised by the WHO and other international institutions, and has become an integral part of health policy in Europe.

Celebrating the past with an eye to the future

AESGP Annual Meetings are an excellent way to explore key issues and trends impacting the European consumer health industry. The 60th AESGP Annual Meeting was no exception, bringing together experts, policymakers, stakeholders, and members to reflect on the organisation’s achievements and chart the way forward for the future of self-care.

The 60th AESGP Annual Meeting kicked off on the evening of June 4 with a Self-Care Gala at the just restored historical stock-market in the centre of Brussels. The iconic Bourse – Beurs was the stage to celebrate the milestones of AESGP and the contribution of its members and stakeholders in ensuring access to safe, effective and sustainable self-care in Europe.

AESGP President, Jonathan Workman, opened the Annual Meeting with a strong Call to Action seizing the opportunities rooted in the economic and social value of non-prescription medicines, medical devices and food supplements. AESGP calls for a commitment to a healthier Europe as we prepare for the next European Parliament and Commission leadership cycle. The focus of the Call to Action is on enhancing healthcare systems, on integrating personalized self-care, and on empowering individuals to effectively manage their well-being.

During the Annual Meeting days, June 5 and 6, there were thought-leadership sessions and technical workshops covering critical topics for the self-care sector, such as the role of self-care in transforming health and social care, regulatory systems, sustainable packaging, and many more. Sustainability, digitalization, and artificial intelligence emerged as key themes, reflecting the self-care industry’s commitment to innovation and environmental stewardship.

With its wide-ranging footprint across OTC medicines, food supplements and self-care medical devices sectors, the consumer health industry faces an avalanche of regulations, and AESGP continues to be an effective advocate for its stakeholders, alongside adjacent industry partners.

Key Highlights and Press Articles

HBW Insight reporter David Ridley has summarised some of the key themes of this year’s conference in five articles, available for free.

  • Industry Must Be ‘Organized, Bold And Unapologetic’ About Value Of Self-Care

The Association of the European Self-Care Industry’s 60th Annual Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, opens with a rousing call to action from president Jonathan Workman. Looking to the upcoming EU elections, Workman urges industry to push for widening access to OTC medicines through switch, digital and sustainable investment, improved health literacy and regulatory flexibility. Read the article here.

  • Medicine Packaging Exemption ‘Not Helpful’ For Circular Economy

Should the consumer health industry be exempt from the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive? This question is hotly debated by representatives from major flexible packaging supplier Amcor and OTC manufacturer Perrigo at the 60th AESGP Annual Meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Read the article here.

  • Climate Inaction Could Cost Healthcare Companies 10-20% Operating Profit

Failing to take sufficient action on climate change could be a costly business for consumer health companies. However, the good news from the AESGP’s 60th Annual Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, is that at least half of the cost of decarbonizing will be balanced by savings, according to Boston Consulting Group. And climate change adaption will present firms with a wide variety of opportunities for product innovation, IQVIA Consumer Health’s Volker Spitzer tells delegates. Read the article here.

  • OTC Firms Must ‘Innovate Harder’ To Realize Growth Opportunity

Industry can look forward to a global OTC market compound annual growth rate of around 7% over the next few years, according to IQVIA Consumer Health. Innovation will be key to ensure individual companies realize this level of growth. IQVIA CH’s Amit Shukla and Simon-Kucher & Partners’ Clemens Oberhammer point to some key consumer trends to keep an eye on at the recent AESGP Annual Meeting in Brussels. Read the article here.

  • Real World Evidence Could Drive Rx-To-OTC Switch, If Regulators Embrace It

Real-world data and evidence, for example generated by digital consumer health technology like apps and wearables, could provide crucial support for Rx-to-OTC switch applications, argues Sanofi Consumer Healthcare’s Penny Glover at the Association of the European Self-Care Industry’s 60th Annual Meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Recent research by Sanofi indicates that regulators are actually already using RWD and RWE in many cases when assessing switch applications, even if they do not call it that. Read the article here.

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