Celebrating 60 Years of AESGP and Self-Care

In 2024, AESGP turned 60! To celebrate this milestone, we invited our valued members, partners and stakeholders to capture, through their stories, the history of our association, highlighting our evolution and achievements over the years. 

Discover what they said…

Celebrating 60 Years of AESGP and Self-Care

They shared in a video...

... and they wrote to us

Self-care has always been an important part of healthcare. However non-prescription medicines got a place in the EU Pharma Law only by 1992, together with the first ever EU wide rules for public advertising and labelling. AESGP was instrumental in shaping this new legislation. It provided the ground for a phenomenal development of self-care all over Europe and was even a point of reference in other parts of the world.

In the early part of this century, AESGP was closely involved in the drafting of EU rules for food supplements and substance-based medical devices. The current EU legislation as a whole – ideally with amendments in the details – is an excellent basis for a bright future for the consumer health industry.

Dr Hubertus Cranz, Immediate past AESGP Director General

In commemorating the 60th anniversary of our industry, we honour a journey of resilience, innovation, and teamwork beyond commercial stakeholder interests. Over six decades, we’ve become a thriving community, dedicated to improving responsible self-care and sustainable development for our industry. This celebration pays homage to the pioneers who laid the foundations for our success, inspiring us to continue overcoming challenges and making impactful advancements. Looking forward, AESGP is united in leveraging our collective history to drive future progress.

Hans V. Regenauer, Former AESGP President (2009 – 2014)

The founders of AESGP and the national Self Care association were true visioners. AESGP was a fundamental contributor to create the framework for a flourishing new category that enables citizens to take responsibility and care of their own health.

Everything needed to be set up and formalized: the pathway and appropriate regulation for RX-to-OTC switches, free pricing, direct-to-consumer advertising and the modernization of pharma regulation for OTC products. These laws are fundamental and are not a given, and in some instances, they still need to be defended and modernized.

AESGP is the number 1 advisor to the EU Commission when it seeks the input from our industry. Through trust, competence, reliability and the fair balance of AESGP’s positions, it earned the undisputed credibility with the EU organs in Brussels.

AESGP transformed itself to a modern, transparent, digital, diverse and active listening organization that always puts the European citizen first by helping its companies to serve patients and consumers at their best.

Today, Consumer Health is a big, constantly growing sector within total healthcare. The need for consumer health is increasing as societies age and sick funds need to focus on financing severe diseases. Thus, AESGP continues to be strongly needed to shape the future of Self Care and to continue to enable citizens to take care of themselves.

Birgit Schuhbauer, Former AESGP President (2016 – 2022)

Consumers want to actively manage their own health and are taking greater individual responsibility for their health care and health choices. This includes responsible use of self-medication, which in turn requires awareness of and good access to information and to safe, effective and affordable self-medication options.

The health, social and economic benefits of self-care are well evidenced. All stakeholders in this field must work closely together to best serve the European citizens in this area.

The AESGP, since its foundation in 1964, has worked tirelessly with all stakeholders and now, 60 years on, can look back at a long list of successful achievements that have advanced the self-care agenda in Europe for the benefit of all.

But this complex field continues to evolve, and it is critical that AESGP continues its work, together with you and other stakeholders, to achieve an even better self-care environment for all in the years to come.

Hans van Zoonen, Former AESGP President (2005 – 2009)

Self-care is becoming an intrinsic part of everyone’s personal daily life, and that will only grow in the future, as we, as individuals, are on a continuous learning curve about our own health, and choices we make to protect and take care of ourselves. We have never had so many incredible options of innovative brands to meet our needs. Trust is key. In my view, it will be the most important parameter in self-care in the future, whether trusting others, in terms of products and advice, as well as ourselves, to care for ourselves in the right way. AESGP will need to continue to be ahead of this learning curve, ensuring all stakeholders know and understand the critical role self-care will have for the EU’s population.

Michelle Gibbons, Director General, AIM

With people and animals living closer together, the interdependence of human health and animal health, and the health of our shared environment is closer now than ever. We have very much appreciated the regular sharing of knowledge and exchanges of ideas with the AESGP secretariat in a One Health spirit over the years. Self-care for people can be so much more beneficial with animals by our side.

Roxane Feller, Secretary General, AnimalHealthEurope

In 2024, we mark three major health milestones: In Portugal, 85th years of APIFARMA, providing innovative medicines and OTCs to serve patients with more and better health. The National Health Service – SNS – which marks 50th years of service to all citizens, in which health is a constitutional right of all Portuguese and/or residents in Portugal. And we add to these celebrations the 60th years of AESGP, which works every day to empower sustainable self-care in Europe. The mission of increasing people’s literacy and ensuring confidence in OTC medicines, with total quality, safety, and efficacy, is already an achievement, but remains one of the great global challenges for even greater citizen responsibility in the future. 60th years of fruitful collaboration and getting permanent exchanges of experiences between all countries.

We hope to continue our collaborative work with increasingly literacy, positive results, and to emphasize the support to everyone’s access, effective and sustainable self-care in Europe, empowering people to take better care of their own and their families’ health.

 

João Almeida Lopes, President, Apifarma

The exchange and networking with the AESGP team and the many colleagues from other countries are a great enrichment of my work. Many regulations and decisions in the EU have a direct or indirect impact on Switzerland. Our long-standing membership of the AESGP gives us the opportunity to be informed in good time and to contribute our input, even though we are not a member of the economic area. It is crucial that the concerns of the OTC and consumer health care industry have their own representation in Brussels through the AESGP. The results of the extensive work carried out over the last 60 years are impressive proof of this.

Martin Bangerter, Managing Director, Association of the Swiss Self-Medication Industry (ASSGP)

Self-care is an increasingly important area, and self-care is undeniably trending. If developed responsibly, self-care can contribute substantially on health literacy of patients by strengthening their treatment competence.  As such, improved self-care behavior of informed patients is able to relieve the burden on our healthcare system, free up resources and provide low-threshold access to well-tested and essential medicines. As a pan-European organization, the AESGP is playing a leading role in connecting stakeholders in this area and thus advancing self-care throughout the EU.

Dr. Günter Waxenecker, Head of Austrian Medicines and Medical Devices Agency (AGES)

COCIR is delighted to join the celebrations for the 60th Anniversary of AESGP. We are very proud of our long-standing partnership and to have developed joint positions to improve healthcare in Europe. Let’s celebrate all the work and continued focus that AESGP has placed to support everyone in Europe’s access to safe, effective and sustainable self-care.

Annabel Seebohm, Secretary General, COCIR

Health and healthcare need strong advocates in Europe. I congratulate AESGP for being part of this effort for 60 years. The pandemic showed the value of a health system in which all actors come together around the patient to deliver the best possible care. It also showed the importance of investing in prevention, health literacy and patient empowerment, which are also the foundation for effective selfcare. We look forward to continuing the discussion towards a healthier Europe!

Sarada Das, Secretary General, CPME

Safe, effective, sustainable self-care will be the cornerstone of everyday consumer health for Europe, enabling citizens to care for themselves and their loved ones.

AESGP has an instrumental role to play in shaping the healthcare ecosystem in a period of paramount changes. With the aim to further integrate self-care into healthcare policy, HCPs curriculum & practice, public health literacy.

Grigoris Karelos, President, the Greek Association of Self-Care (EFEX)

From all of us at EFPIA to everyone at AESGP, a very happy 60th Anniversary! It is always incredibly effective and a true pleasure to work with AESGP. Indeed, working with AESGP has always been key to EFPIA’s staff and members as together with the generics industry, we represent the European pharmaceutical industry. One key area of collaboration has been around minimising the impact of the European pharmaceutical industry on the environment. Our industry is committed to continue to play an active role in addressing concerns around risks associated with Pharmaceuticals in the Environment (PiE). Minimising the impact of medicines on the environment while safeguarding access to effective treatments for patients is a critical issue across all sectors of healthcare. We know that a collaborative approach allows us to increase our mutual knowledge and understanding of how to proactively address any potential risks imposed by the presence of PiE and to this end we are proud to have collaborated closely with AESGP and Medicines for Europe to develop the Eco-Pharmaco-Stewardship (EPS) framework that applies the widely accepted principles of product stewardship and is implemented across the industry and with broader stakeholders in the healthcare and environmental sector. We are excited to continue our collaboration with AESGP and other partners to find solutions to minimise the impact of medicines on the environment and contribute to building a greener future.

Nathalie Moll, Director General, EFPIA - European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations

Today we celebrate a very important day: the 60th anniversary of AESGP. Over the years, AESGP has played a vital role in ensuring self-care, promoting access for millions of people to safe and effective care. It has been a pleasure to work together with colleagues over the years. We wish AESGP every success for the future, so that you can continue to ensure the health and well-being of EU citizens.

Alexander Natz, Secretary General, EUCOPE

As the Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency and as a pharmacist, I acknowledge the importance of both prescription and over-the-counter medicines for public health and the wellbeing of patients and citizens. In its 60 years of activity, AESGP has stayed strongly committed to providing high-quality self-care products and to ensuring that patients and consumers are well-informed on how to use these products safely and effectively.

AESGP is the voice of manufacturers of non-prescription medicines, food supplements, and self-care medical devices in Europe, thus contributing wide-ranging insights that may feed into EMA’s work.

I look forward to continuing our effective collaboration with AESGP.

Emer Cooke, Executive Director, European Medicines Agency (EMA)

Embracing the principles of responsible self-care, I fully endorse the leading role of AESGP in supporting access to safe, effective and sustainable self-care, and empowering people to take charge of their own health, making informed decisions that lead to better outcomes for themselves and their families. As a member of the Parliamentary Committee for the Environment, Public health and Food Safety, I support that responsible self-care should be an integral part of a comprehensive health strategy promotion and disease prevention in Europe, and I believe it is essential for creating a sustainable and resilient health system. The commitment of the European Federation AESGP to advancing self-care is truly commendable, as it plays a crucial role in guiding us towards a healthier future.

Maria Spyraki, Former MEP, European Parliament

Over the past 60 years, the OTC medicine sector has undergone a significant transformation thanks to switches, a growing empowerment of people’s health, the HCPs advice, and technological development. AESGP has played and will continue to play a crucial role in promoting safe and accessible self-care.

In the future, with technological innovation, switches will be more frequent and data-driven, and the sector will be able to offer more personalized and targeted self-care solutions. AESGP will continue to be a catalyst, collaborating with Health Authorities, Health Professionals and Governments to ensure the sustainability of European self-care and to enable people to make informed health decisions. While continuing to promote responsible self-care, AESGP will further improve OTC medicine accessibility, improving all European people’s health.

Michele Albero, President, FEDERCHIMICA ASSOSALUTE

Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada (FHCP) is pleased to offer its heartfelt congratulations on 60 years of making a difference to our long-time partner in the global effort supporting self-care, AESGP.

Europeans and Canadians alike share the health benefits of access to our members’ products, while our respective healthcare systems benefit from the resulting reduced demand for health services.

Our partnership extends back to the 1970s when, together with our American counterparts, AESGP and the Proprietary Association of Canada, (FHCP’s predecessor), spearheaded the establishment of the Global Self-Care Federation’s predecessor, the World Federation of Proprietary Medicine Manufacturers. AESGP’s leadership played a critical role in creating an official relationship between GSCF and the World Health Organization, paving the way for crucial policy initiatives on the global stage.

Gerry Harrington, Senior Vice President Consumer Health, Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada (FHCP)

Sixty years of promoting self-care! As we celebrate your milestone, we also celebrate the constructive collaboration that AESGP has forged with us, other EU-based associations and EU agencies and institutions. Together, we help each other advance our missions and navigate an ever-challenging environment. Here’s to sixty more years of collective effort.

Rebeca Fernandez, Director Food Safety, Research & Innovation, FoodDrinkEurope

As a regulatory body the BfArM strongly supports AESGP’s vision of empowering people to take better care of their health. Especially digital technology with its increasing influence creates new opportunities here – as shown, for example, by digital health applications (called DiGA in Germany) that enable patients in many ways and can therefore be reimbursed in Germany. We appreciate the close and constructive cooperation with AESGP on European level and look forward to the milestones we will achieve together in the coming decades for even better healthcare for citizens in Europe.

Prof. Dr. Karl Broich, President, Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM)

AESGP has consistently served as a benchmark for regional associations worldwide. As ILAR, we’ve drawn inspiration not only from its working methods but also from its regulatory and advocacy projects to foster a more conducive environment for the adoption of self-care. In mirroring AESGP’s initiatives, we strive to enhance awareness and accessibility to self-care solutions, aligning with global efforts to empower individuals in managing their health. Through collaborative activities and shared best practices, we endeavour to contribute to a paradigm shift towards proactive health management, improving overall well-being and healthcare sustainability on a broader scale.

Juan Thompson, Executive President, Latin American Association of Responsible Self-Care (ILAR)

Clearly, the strongest drive for change has been information technology which has enabled people to manage their own care more closely and better, and this means everything from information about health-enhancing behaviours, the use of medicines to the availability of medicines and so on.

The importance of trusted information and products cannot be overstated. Regulation can enable this and providers can be leaders in supporting people when and as they need information, products and services.

Oliver O’Connor, CEO, Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA)

The AESGP represents the best of the consumer health industry. At IQVIA Consumer Health we have been honoured to play a role in supporting the work that the organization has done to drive self-care forward across Europe, and widen access to safe, effective healthcare products.

We are committed to continuing our work with the AESGP to help industry uncover and bring to market the next generation of self-care products, as all of us strive to create an innovative and progressive self-care environment that powers everyday health and shapes a healthier world.

Congratulations AESGP on the 60th Anniversary of this vital organization and we look forward to further successful collaboration in the years to come.

Vincent Bartkowiak, Senior Director, Global Business Marketing, IQVIA Consumer Health

Happy Birthday AESGP! Thank you for all your work in positioning self-care at the centre of European political debate for the last 60 years. Now more than ever, your voice and consistent effort empower, facilitate and encourage people to take their health in their own hands and create healthy communities. Your work in establishing self-care’s role as an essential component of a modern, sustainable healthcare system where individuals can thrive can not be understated.

Carlton Lawson, Group President, Europe, Middle East and Africa & Latin America, Kenvue

As we celebrate AESGP’s 60th anniversary, we envision a future where self-care and generic medicines synergise for enhanced healthcare access. Self-care offers effective disease management and better well-being at all life stages for all individuals. It complements the generics industry’s mission to provide essential access to patients across Europe and the globe. By combining the strengths of self-care practices and the generic medicines sector, we are paving the way for a future where every individual has access to the care they need, not just for the next 60 years, but for generations to come. As partners in this journey, we remain committed to shaping a healthcare landscape that prioritises inclusivity, accessibility, and sustainability of healthcare systems!

Adrian van den Hoven, Director General, Medicines for Europe

Self-care is becoming increasingly important in a healthcare system that is facing its boundaries. Self-care can make a valuable contribution to keeping the healthcare systems in Europe accessible and affordable.

With the Pharma Legislation Review, it is important that AESGP and the national associations closely work together to keep all self-care medicines available in Europe.

Neprofarm, a proud member, congratulates AESGP on its 60th anniversary!

Bernard Mauritz, Director, Neprofarm

I am pleased to be celebrating 60 years of AESGP. It has been great to be a board member for just a small part of the organisation’s rich history; in addition to enjoying many years working collaboratively between AESGP and PAGB, the consumer healthcare association in the UK. Together, we successfully navigated the challenges posed by the UK’s departure from the European Union, with AESGP colleagues playing an important role in ensuring our collective success with the commission. I am pleased to continue to work together to champion self-care across Europe.

Michelle Riddalls, CEO, PAGB, the consumer healthcare association

As Europe’s public health systems approach a critical juncture, the importance of self-care in our journey forward cannot be overstated. It brings individual wellness and preventive practices to the forefront of health care. I am confident that AESGP will continue to lead this shift, advocating for the consumer health industry’s crucial role in providing individuals with effective, accessible self-care products and the knowledge of how to use them responsibly. AESGP’s commitment to advocacy and education has already empowered patients and enhanced their autonomy. Together, we can further cultivate a culture where health care starts at home.

Petr Fifka, MP and Vice-chairperson of Committee on Health Care, Chamber of Deputies, Parliament of the Czech Republic

AESGP has played a pivotal role in representing and advocating for the manufacturers of non-prescription products in Europe.

AESGP’s collaboration with public administration authorities and institutions has been crucial in shaping policies that support the responsible use of self-care products. By actively engaging with policymakers, AESGP has effectively conveyed the importance of self-care in improving the overall health condition of European citizens. Together, we strive to educate and empower individuals to make informed decisions about their health. We wholeheartedly endorse AESGP and their mission to promote self-care and we look forward to continuing our collaboration to improve the health of society.

Monika Zagrajek, General Director, the Polish Association of Self-Medication Industry (PASMI)

As AESGP celebrates its 60th anniversary, PGEU applauds the vital collaboration between the self-care industry and community pharmacists to empower individuals to improve their health and well-being. We extend our gratitude to AESGP and its members for the long-standing relationship between our organizations.

Amid demographic changes and budgetary constraints, this partnership is crucial for optimizing healthcare resources. Community pharmacists are committed to continue playing a key role in guiding safe and effective self-care practices. Here’s to many more years of continued progress in enhancing the capacity of citizens to manage their health responsibly and in promoting public health.

Ilaria Passarani, Secretary General, PGEU – European Community Pharmacists

Healthy societies and a healthy planet go hand in hand. I’m proud to have witnessed AESGP’s leadership over the years to make self-care more accessible and sustainable, now and for generations to come.

At Sanofi Consumer Healthcare, we believe that sustainability and self-care are inseparable, and our B-Corp journey is a bold example of our commitment toward a healthier planet through sustainable self-care.

Paul Martingell, SVP Region Head Europe & Latin America, Consumer Healthcare at Sanofi

The political and legal framework in Europe is more than ever key for our aspiration to further develop self-care. Due to its strategic competence, its wide network, and its customer-centric service approach, AESGP is and will be our European Hub for pharma politics and legislation.

Dr. Traugott Ullrich, General Manager Marketing, Medical & Sales Germany, Dr. Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co. KG

This will be my 5th AESGP Annual meeting. I have met so many wonderful people through this forum, many of whom have become friends. The network that this has provided is invaluable to the Self-Care Association of South Africa. Thank you AESGP. Congratulations on your 60th anniversary. What a milestone achievement.

Nicola Brink, Chief Executive Officer , Self-Care Association of South Africa

AI, apps, and healthcare platforms will empower people to manage their health more effectively. Digital solutions will enable personalized decision-making and holistic health management, moving beyond specific symptom treatment. New technologies will enhance the accessibility and affordability of personalized nutrition, and preventative health will gain more relevance and contribute to the potential growth of the self-care industry.

As the industry evolves, AESGP can further support these innovations while advocating for health literacy and collaborating with policymakers to ensure safe, ethical, and equitable access for all. This will empower people to make more informed decisions regarding their health and ensure data privacy and inclusivity guarantees everyone can benefit from self-care developments.

Dr. Clemens Oberhammer, Senior Partner, Simon-Kucher

Collaborating with AESGP is always a pleasure thanks to the attentiveness, professionalism and friendliness of the organization and its representatives.