What do you do when everything is OTC? Understanding consumer choice in the Arabian Gulf

Jim Ryan
IMS Health, United Kingdom


In the markets of the Arabian Gulf a consumer can walk into a retail pharmacy and buy almost any mainstream pharmaceutical product without a prescription. That in itself is not unique, but when it is combined with high levels of disposable income in markets such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, we have an extremely interesting case study in consumer choice. This paper will briefly contrast the situation in Europe with that in the Arabian Gulf before discussing the implications of direct consumer purchasing for marketing and promotional strategy in the region.


It is not the purpose of this paper to provide a detailed review of over-the-counter (OTC) markets in Europe. The intention here is to present just a few key characteristics as a basis for comparison with the markets of the Arabian Gulf.