Embracing Change to Move the Self-Care Industry Forward
By Birgit Schuhbauer, AESGP president
2018 was a year of change at AESGP! Dr Hubertus Cranz, AESGP Director General, who started in this function on 1 June 1988 retired in June 2018 after more than 30 years of service. During his tenure, AESGP embodied the voice of the consumer health industry in Europe. His competence, high sense of service and professionalism made it a highly regarded interlocutor both towards stakeholders and is own members.
The list of AESGP political successes under his leadership is long. It starts with the adoption of the directives on pharmaceutical advertising and classification, and thereby the clear definition and distinction of legal status between medicines subject to prescription and non-prescription medicines in the early 1990s. That laid down the grounds for development of self-care in all parts of Europe – complemented by further access to all procedures to access the market. Another great development is enlargement of self-care products categories namely by addition of food supplements and more recently self-care medical devices which was reflected in the growing scope of the association.
While I pay tribute to the achievements of Dr Cranz, I am equally excited to welcome the new leadership team: Jurate Svarcaite as Director General and Maud Perrudin as Deputy Director. I believe that Jurate and Maud with their very different, but complementary backgrounds, form a competent duo at the helm of the association; under their leadership AESGP is best positioned to continue embodying the voice of the self-care industry in Europe and embracing the future of the self-care sector. Bringing Jurate and Maud on board was an important milestone for me and the entire AESGP Board in ensuring a smooth transition of leadership in the Association.
This transition comes at a moment when significant changes are happening in the self-care environment. Patient-centricity, empowerment and moving from product to services, high connectivity and access to mobile technologies, demand for sustainable products- just to name a few drivers for change. Especially important are the developments in the digital space and rise of a new communication channel of social media; impact of big data and artificial intelligence in health care delivery and regulatory science is indisputable. These could be new roads for opportunity and disruption, and the biggest change is that the roads are no longer one way.
The second half of 2018 was hence logically dedicated to the AESGP Strategy 2019-2022. It was an exciting journey for many of us involved at AESGP, which resulted in a roadmap that will guide its next 4 years to embrace changes and move self-care forward. Self-care r offers an untapped potential to free public health resource by governments and international institutions. At these challenging times of rising burden of chronic diseases, aging population, and scarce public resources, we must act and position self-care as the true first step in healthcare. Because it is our DNA, AESGP will continue to proactively shape the regulatory, legislative, political and economic framework where the consumer healthcare industry operates. We will focus on non-prescription medicines, self-care medical devices and food supplements and will build on cross-category expertises that is our added value/ at the heart of our mission. We shall continue to build trust in self-care and in our Industry, and remain accountable to our stakeholders. Finally, we seize the opportunity to focus intently on strengthening and developing a holistic network encompassing all relevant stakeholders and serve as a platform to our Member Associations.
We begin the new year in an environment of change, but with a steady focus on our mission to advance responsible self-care enabling citizens to take better care of their health needs and contribute to the sustainability of European health care systems. Its value is inherent, and its importance is undeniable.