Call for tighter rules on non-prescription meds

July 03, 2013, 8:57 AM GMT+0

Two-thirds of consumers want tighter regulation on claims made by non-prescription medicines

Two-thirds (67%) of UK consumers want stronger regulations governing the health claims made by non-prescription medicines. Additionally, only a quarter (25%) of people trust manufacturers not to mislead consumers, according to a new report from YouGov.

Despite a majority wanting more and/or tighter regulation, however, the UK health products market is still robust, with 80% of UK consumers having pain killers in their home at any one time. Furthermore, more than a third (36%) of respondents has vitamins at home. YouGov Reports estimate that the total market value was £2.39bn in 2012, up modestly on 2011.

While the majority (77%) of consumers say they have not been put off non-prescription medicines by recent media coverage, a significant minority (27%) say they are less likely to buy diet/slimming pills following recent adverse publicity.

Keeping healthy

A majority (56%) of consumers in the UK say they do “as much as they can” to stay healthy, a figure that rises to 66% for those aged 55 and over. However, 82% of respondents feel their lifestyles could be healthier.

Of those who say their lifestyles could be healthier, taking more exercise (71%), eating healthier foods (57%), eating less (42%), cutting down/stopping drinking (26%), and cutting down/stopping smoking (12%) were identified as areas for improvement.

Interestingly, among those who feel their lifestyle could be healthier, reducing alcohol consumption appears to be especially popular amongst men in the 16-24 age range, 38% of whom favour this option. Among the same group, younger people are also far more likely to consider eating healthier foods to improve their lifestyles, which suggests that they represent a more promising and willing target audience for advocates of various diets. While 72% of 16-24 year olds who feel their lifestyle could be healthier would consider this option, just 44% of the over 55s in the same group are prepared to eat healthier foods.

Commenting on the report, YouGov Reports Research Director James McCoy said: “The fact that 82% of consumers in the UK feel that their lifestyles could be healthier indicates there is definitely room for growth in the health products market. However, the relatively high degree of scepticism amongst consumers indicates that companies need to do more to convince people that buying their products is worthwhile, and might help them lead a healthier life.”

Learn more about YouGov Reports