New data suggests that Brazil's drug market expanded 12% each year between 2001 and 2004, with OTC drugs and generics among the main beneficiaries of solid growth in the period. The survey links the higher spending to economic stability and growing health awareness, as well as higher life expectancy and purchasing power.

Brazil's pharmacy trade association, ABRAFARMA, reported that drug retail sales reached a record BRL20bn (US$8.9bn) last year. While higher spending on generics has been highlighted, it appears that greater confidence in drug products among the country's growing middle class has boosted overall sales. Surveys claim that people in the "C" social group were the largest purchasers of drugs, at 39%, while the "A" and "B" social categories together account for 32.8% of sales.

Apart from social factors, the non-prescription sector's liberal advertising regime and the market's most diverse offering have driven the success of OTCs in Brazil. Oral hygiene products, appetite boosters, topical painkillers and vitamin supplements are among the fastest-growing OTC products in Brazil.