The proliferation of digital devices and other factors have made it easier than ever for consumers to strain their eyes. Yet a survey1 has found that more than half of all people don’t take any action on eye care. With this situation, raising people's awareness of eye health is one of the most important issues.
*1 Source by Japan Marketing Agency, Inc. (Web-based survey conducted in June 2023: 4200 people, men and women aged 15-79)

For this issue, we interviewed Santen colleagues in Japan’s over-the-counter (OTC)2 drug business division who are working to promote evidence-based eye care by leveraging Santen’s strengths in the prescription pharmaceuticals (Rx) business. Interviewees explain the various approaches being taken to promote the eye health to as many people as possible—not only in terms of products, but also on the sales floor; these include motivating people to take eye care more seriously, promoting the proper use of products, and encouraging people to visit an ophthalmologist when symptoms don’t improve with self-care.
2 “Over-the-counter drugs” and “OTC drugs” refer to products that can be purchased without a prescription

Leveraging OTC and prescription product strengths to raise eye care awareness among consumers


I believe that the OTC business offers value to consumers that only Santen can provide, leveraging all of our strengths, including expertise and technological capabilities in the field of ophthalmology that we have built up over more than 130 years, our strong network of doctors and pharmacies, the trust that comes from that network, and our brand equity.

Based on this approach, we are focusing on raising eye care awareness among consumers through OTC products, seeking to realize better eye health for as many consumers as possible. We offer products such as Hyalein S, Well-Wash EYE, Soft Santear and others, using communication to promote the importance of eye care and broaden the eye care entry point and base.

We are also actively working to link ophthalmic care to self-care through outreach to drugstore dispensing departments that work with the Ophthalmology Division in Santen, deployment of mobile applications for self-diagnosis of eye symptoms, guidance to customers to consult an ophthalmologist if symptoms do not improve with self-care, and provision of information on self-care following outpatient treatment.

We will continue to increase the number of partners who share our desire to protect the eye health of as many people as possible, aiming to create a world in which consumers view eye care as simply common sense.

Yoshinori Watanabe, Corporate Officer, Division Manager, Sales and Marketing–OTC Products

Seeking to change consumers’ eye care awareness and habits


Tanaka: We are involved in the marketing of OTC products. Santen is developing a variety of products, including some that are designed to address conditions such as eye fatigue, dryness, and blurred vision, and others that help you feel refreshed, but none of these products will result in improved eye care if we can’t get them into the hands of consumers. We listen to the voices of consumers on a daily basis and strive to engage with them through better products and information.

Yamaguchi: For us, the most important element is communicating the value that our products can deliver in a way that is easy for consumers to understand. I’m responsible for Hyalein S, which was launched in 2020 as an “Rx-to-OTC switch” product3. We carefully select words and expressions to ensure that consumers fully understand the safety, usefulness, and benefits of the Rx-to-OTC switch product. It feels really great when a plan or message created through a trial-and-error process with internal and external stakeholders attracts the attention of consumers as planned.
3 An Rx that has become an OTC product and can be purchased without a prescription

OTC Marketing Group:
Naoko Tanaka (left) and Ayaka Yamaguchi

Tanaka: Santen’s OTC product business benefits from the track record of Rx business and the high level of trust it has cultivated among medical professionals. Moreover, the strength of the OTC business lies in its ability to more precisely identify the needs of consumers, apply this knowledge to the development of even better products, and then feed this knowledge back to the Rx business. Through our products and related communication, we hope to help people resolve their eye problems through self-care, promote early detection and prevention of diseases, and encourage regular eye examinations.

Working with partners to propose proper eye care to consumers at pharmacies and drug stores


OTC Sales Group:
Block Manager Takeyuki Suzuki (left) and Ryoma Wada

In-store promotional tools for OTC products

Suzuki: The sales group’s direct customers are mainly retailers and wholesalers. We are committed to understanding the concerns of consumers and then working together with our customers to resolve them.

Wada: For example, we have a product called Well-Wash EYE, an eye drop-type eyewash based on a new concept that allows consumers to keep their eyes clean and comfortable by washing them whenever they like and not just when they experience discomfort. When making product proposals, we take retailer and wholesaler insights into account, so we will promote the product as a countermeasure for cedar pollen in Honshu, but in Okinawa, where cedar pollen is not an issue, we will recommend it as a solution for air pollution problems such as PM2.5 and yellow sand.

Suzuki: We believe that Santen’s specialization in ophthalmology and the solid foundation of our Rx business are the strengths that allow us to propose proper eye care solutions to our customers. Hyalein and Soft Santear are both proven products with long track records as Rx. Now available to consumers without a prescription, we believe they contribute to improving people’s quality of life while reinforcing the importance of eye care.

Suzuki: Our sales group is also working to strengthen cooperation with medical representatives (MRs) in the Rx business. For example, we work together with regional MRs to introduce the Hitomi Ururu Scan—a tool for self-checking eye health developed under the supervision of ophthalmologists—to the dispensing departments of pharmacies and drugstores, and it contributes to create an opportunity for raising awareness among consumers at the storefront. Since MRs have specialized knowledge of pharmaceuticals and medical care, they help reassure customers by explaining how and in what scenarios the tool should be used.

Wada: We believe that creating new demand for eye care while making the most of Santen’s know-how and expertise will lead to the protection of people’s eye health, and we will continue to make even better proposals to the customers in the future.

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