The PAGB Centenary celebrations - a members perspective.
by Ellie Hughes

The PAGB is 100 years old, and during this time the OTC consumer medicines landscape has changed immensely.

I wasn’t quite there at the beginning but having worked in the industry for almost 40 years and having the advantage of viewing it from both a manufacturer and agency perspective, I do feel I’ve lived through some of its more significant key moments.

In the early years, it was all about debates surrounding advertising and what brand name could be used to advertise Loperamide when, in 1983, it became the first POM to P switch (no, it wasn’t ibuprofen!), allowing consumers to buy this highly effective anti-diarrhoeal over the counter without a prescription. Janssen Pharmacy Division (now part of J&J) were not allowed to use the prescription brand name Imodium – so the company made the decision to launch an identical product under a new brand name Arret. How times and the advertising regulations have changed! The PAGB were very supportive in helping approve the packaging and helping the company to negotiate with BACC (now Clearcast) to ensure we had an approved TV ad entitled ‘Montezuma’s Revenge’ on-air in time for the holiday season.

Whilst working for Wyeth Consumer Healthcare on Centrum in the 1990’s, I became involved in the Food Supplement Committee, now (HSIS) and Joint Health Claims Initiative (JHCI), working with the PAGB and Industry on the development of a code of practice for health claims for Food Supplements.

Then, in the Noughties, and up to the present day, as I moved from manufacture to agency focussed work with Precision Marketing Group, many of our projects involved the emerging world of Medical Devices and the development of substantiable claims to support this new category of products.

Throughout this whole period I have always known that I could rely on the PAGB to give sound advice on exactly what to do in any particular circumstance, and additionally to provide expert signposting to other bodies, associations or centres of excellence for help, should I need it - in a nutshell their approach is ‘If we don’t know… we know a man, or woman, who does!’… a truly ‘can-do’ attitude.

Of course, under-pinning all this pragmatism, and can-do attitude is the drive to increase self-care, one of the guiding principles of the PAGB, and a key focus for much of its marketing activity in recent years. This is borne out of the demographic ‘time bomb’ showing that, although life expectancy is increasing, the number of years of healthy life in retirement is not keeping up, and that this discrepancy varies significant depending on what part to the country we live in†. A key drive for narrowing this gap will be more a focus on preventative healthcare and in particular more self-care -  the more we can do to take care of ourselves and keep fit as we age, the better quality of life we will have in later years.


The Centenary Dinner.

And finally, on looking around the room at The Centenary Dinner, I was struck by the sheer breadth of experience of the attendees, not just from PAGB member companies, but also representatives from Europe (AESGP), Government (MHRA) and allied healthcare professions such as the BMA. Showing again how influential the PAGB continues to be in driving the self-care agenda across, not just in the UK, but also in Europe too.

Whatever happens with Brexit (there, I’ve said the ‘B’ word now), we can count on the PAGB to have the knowledge, expertise, energy and commitment to ensure the UK consumer healthcare market thrives for the next 100 years.

A very well-deserved CONGRATULATIONS to the PAGB.


Photography by


Ellie Hughes
Ellie HughesDirector of Healthcare Client Services

Get in touch with Ellie:

Ellie Hughes
Ellie HughesDirector of Healthcare Client Services

Get in touch with Ellie:

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