Skip to main content

Consumer use of natural OTCs increases


The use of homeopathic medicines as part of a self-care solution to treat such ailments as the common cold or back pain is becoming more and more commonplace through conventional channels. While a Harvard survey on the use of homeopathy published earlier this year in the American Journal of Public Health revealed that only 2.1% of U.S. adults have used homeopathy in the past 12 months, conventional outlets including Walmart, CVS Health and Rite Aid command 86.5% of the homeopathic dollar share, according to SPINSscan (powered by IRI).

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

For the 52 weeks ended July 10, the sale of homeopathic medicines in conventional channels generated $392.9 million, up 3.3%, as compared to $58.1 million on 0.9% growth in natural channels.

According to the homeopathy usage survey — the first detailed report on the use of homeopathy in the United States — two-thirds of the respondents who used homeopathy ranked it among their top three complementary and integrative medicine therapies. And most of them were going to retail for their homeopathic remedies — only 19% reported seeing a homeopathic practitioner during the preceding year.

“The information provided by this survey is important to regulatory officials at the FDA and the FTC, both of which have inquired about the public use and perception of these products,” said Michelle Dossett, of Harvard Medical School and lead author of the paper. “Since most people purchase these products over the counter without physician guidance, it is reassuring to see that most use them for non-serious, self-limited conditions,” she said. “Our data suggest that the likelihood of people using these products for serious conditions without input from a healthcare professional is low, and data from other groups suggest that most CIM use is in addition to, not in place of, conventional treatment.”

The respondents who reported using homeopathy were more likely to be white, female, married, highly educated, between the ages of 30 to 44 years old and live in the western United States than were CIM users who did not use homeopathy.

A separate consumer survey administered by Kline earlier this year confirmed that consumers use natural OTCs more now than one year ago, and nearly two-thirds of consumers said they use them now more than five years ago. “Natural OTCs will continue to be important to consumers, and therefore are expected to grow at strong rates in the future,” concluded Laura Mahecha, healthcare industry manager for Kline Market Research. “They also will continue to offer competition to traditional OTC brands over the next few years.”

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds