Spotlight: Reflecting on a milestone year for PAGB

Published on: 19 December 2019

Celebrating 100 years of Consumer Healthcare

2019 was a milestone year for the consumer healthcare industry as we celebrated 100 years of working together on the responsible promotion of effective medicines that our consumers can trust.

Fifteen founding members established the association in response to the threat of legislation to regulate the proprietary medicines sector. Working together, those pioneers created the principles of self-regulation that we still adhere to today.

Consumer healthcare has changed a lot in the past 100 years, companies have grown, specialised, merged and acquired different portfolios, but the industry’s aim to support families in looking after their healthcare needs remains – as do many of the enduring brands people know and trust.

Neil Lister, PAGB President

Ashton & Parson’s teething powders, one of the founding members, are still manufactured by Alliance; the smell of TCP still reminds people of their childhood over 100 years since its launch in 1918; and Anadin, launched in 1932, is still one of the leading analgesic brands.

PAGB has supported the industry through the big regulatory and political changes of the last century, from the threat of Government regulation, the launch of the NHS and legislation to control the licensing of medicines to new ways of advertising our products with the introduction and development of television and the internet.

Together as an industry we have also played our part in key national and international events of the last 100 years, controlling the alcohol rations during the Second World War, engaging in the development of European Free Trade in the post-war era and playing an instrumental role in the establishment of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the 1960s.

This video that associate member Bray Leino produced for us captures a lot of what PAGB has been involved in over the years.

For me, and I know for many members, the highlight of the Centenary year was our gala dinner at the Science Museum in June, exactly 100 years to the day from the first meeting of our trade association. It was a fitting way to celebrate PAGB: then, now and tomorrow, as the venue was transformed from a 1920s speakeasy bar to an ultramodern disco during the course of the evening, with a fantastic band playing music from 1919 through to the present day. It was great to see so many members and associate members there, as well as former staff and key stakeholders from Government, pharmacy and other trade associations.

2019 has been a year of looking back but also looking forward, for at least the next five years, if not the next 100. The new PAGB Strategy to 2025, which the Board approved in September, puts PAGB in a strong position to support the industry through the challenges and opportunities ahead of us.

From a commercial perspective, I’m excited about the new digital work stream. This is such an important area for all of our businesses, it is right that we work through the issues and explore the opportunities together, as PAGB has always done throughout its history. I’m looking forward to seeing the outcomes of the new Digital Working Group and the five sub-groups taking forward critical areas of work for the industry, such as advertising and e-commerce.

However, personally, I am most excited about PAGB’s continuing focus on self care. I’m passionate about this agenda, which enables people to get the support and treatment they need quickly and which we identified in the Self Care White Paper has the potential to save the NHS £1.5 billion – though I still think the savings could be much greater than that.

Over the next five years, we will continue to call for a national self care strategy, prioritising work to secure the introduction of ‘recommendation prescriptions’ to support GPs in referring people with self-treatable conditions to their pharmacy for advice and treatment; to ensure pharmacists have the ability to ‘write’ to people’s medical records to record advice and treatments provided; and for pharmacists to be able to refer people with more complex or serious conditions to other healthcare professionals, fast tracked if necessary. We believe these policies would help change people’s behaviour and give the industry more opportunities to expand access to self care products, with more POM-to-OTC switches.

As 2019 comes to a close, I would like to thank PAGB members for the ongoing commitment and support you show to our trade association. PAGB achieved an impressive amount in its first 100 years, it is now down to us, as members and associate members, to make sure we continue that success into the next 100.

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.