Wednesday, 6/08/2014 02:22 WIB
Herbal Sales Reach Mainstream Market
Somnath Pal, B.S. (Pharm), M.B.A., Ph.D.
Associate Professor, College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, St. John’s University
Pharmacies have 45% sales increase in 1990s.
It should come as no surprise to pharmacists that sales of herbal products are booming and that herbal remedies are now reaching the mainstream medical market.
Although it is difficult to estimate the market for herbal products because of widespread sales through outlets such as health food stores, mass merchandisers and mail order houses, the total market in 1998 was estimated to be between $4 and $5.1 billion.
As herbal products have entered the medical mainstream, pharmacies have become important and fitting resources for patients in need of health advice. Pharmacies in fact experienced an increase of 45% in sales of herbal supplements in the 1990s. Almost 19% of persons using prescription medications also use herbal products.
The PDR for Herbal Products lists more than 400 herbals. However, only 10 products account for almost 60% of the total market. The new Complete German Commission E Monographs reports that the 10 leading herbals are ginkgo biloba, ginseng, garlic, echinacea/goldenseal, St. John’s wort, grapeseed extract, evening primrose oil, cranberry and valerian. One of the fastest-growing herbal products is St. John’s wort, which reached number 5 in sales in 1997.
Chronic symptoms most frequently treated with herbals include back problems, anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, “hot flashes?and headache.
Herbal products lead the entire category of products/services classified as alternative therapies. Only “professional services?(acupuncture, physical therapy, etc.) have a bigger market. The American Medical Association defines alternative therapies as methods of treatment that are not taught in medical schools; many physicians still believe that alternative medicines lack scientific evidence of effectiveness. Another concern is lack of product standardization. But favorable publicity has made many consumers believers in the efficacy of herbal products.