Rx-To-OTC Switch, Digitalization And CBD High On The Agenda For UK Industry In 2021
The PAGB's Michelle Riddalls tells HBW Insight about the association's hopes for post-Brexit Rx-to-OTC switch, its exciting research into the impact of digitalization on the UK consumer health industry, as well as its intention to look at whether to welcome the country's fast-growing CBD food supplements manufacturers into the fold.
One of the potential silver linings of the UK’s exit from the European Union at the beginning of this year is greater flexibility for the country’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
Outside the regulatory systems of the EU, the MHRA will have the opportunity to explore different pathways to Rx-to-OTC switch, for example, and break new ground in considering real-world evidence generated from digital tools to expedite reclassifications.
That’s the hope shared by PAGB CEO Michelle Riddalls in an exclusive interview with HBW Insight, in which the UK industry association head also expresses optimism about the possibilities for post-COVID Britain.
Riddalls gives an update on the work already done by the association on digitalization, and promises an event this summer showcasing the findings of the PAGB working group investigating the impacts on the UK consumer health industry of e-commerce, social media marketing and mobile health apps, among other things.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is also on the agenda for the association, Riddalls reveals, as the increasingly popular food supplement ingredient approaches a more regulated future this April.
"We’re looking to plan a digital week in early July to present some of our findings and recommendations. Topics will range from how to leverage real-world evidence to creating social media guidelines, which companies have been crying out for and are needed now more than ever."One of the things we found was that there isn’t a real hub for people to go online and find good sources of self-care information. We are now having conversations with the NHS about how to provide this in a way that helps our members add value to their consumer health products via digital technology. Some of our members already doing interesting things with apps, for example Johnson & Johnson’s Nicorette QuickMist SmartTrack product and Alliance Pharma’s Living with Eczema app (Also see "J&J Leverages Power Of Digital Personalization With Nicorette UK Extension" - HBW Insight, 26 Nov, 2020.). These can help educate consumers and allow them to take more control of their treatment, which ultimately relieves the burden on the National Health Service. The pandemic and associated lockdown forced many health services to go digital very suddenly. That had some downsides – it put NHS 111 under significant pressure, for example – but overall, it helped speed up a transition with positive benefits that otherwise would have taken years to happen. It’s great that there are some silver linings in terms of enabling things to move forward more quickly.
"There’s still a really important role for bricks-and-mortar pharmacy, which has been at the forefront of the response to COVID-19 in so many ways."Pharmacies have kept their doors open, quite literally, when that wasn’t the case for some other healthcare providers. They’ve been under huge pressure. I don’t think that e-commerce will necessarily detract from community pharmacy because if people want to have a conversation with a healthcare professional about an OTC medicine, the best way to do that is still face to face in a pharmacy. So as I see it at the moment, they’re complementary. And of course, many of the first COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in pharmacies and drugstores. That’s a really positive illustration of the kind of service they provide.
"At the moment we’re evaluating how CBD can fit with existing legislation and how to ensure the safety and quality of CBD supplements on the market. We’re trying to ascertain whether we then want to move forward and say that CBD companies can apply for PAGB membership."At the moment we’re evaluating how CBD can fit with existing legislation and how to ensure the safety and quality of CBD supplements on the market. We’re trying to ascertain whether we then want to move forward and say that CBD companies can apply for PAGB membership. For us, we’ve got to make sure that we feel that it’s safe and compliant. We do have member companies that are interested in CBD, but there’s been a general reticence because of the uncertainty in the market up to this point.