08/07/2021

Convert Group Study: COVID-19 drew more than 2.7 billion visits to global ePharmacies in 96 countries in Q1’21

Prescription medicine sold online in 47 out of the 96 countries that have ePharmacies

Increase in visits represents a whooping 43% year-over-year growth rate

New research reveals significant opportunity for the Consumer Healthcare Industry to shift consumers’ mindsets around OTC, Rx & FMCG online sales

Consumers and patients globally have turned to digital platforms to purchase their prescription (Rx), non-prescription (OTC) medication and parapharmacy products with more than 2.7 billion online visits to leading ePharmacies across 96 countries in Q1’21. This represents an astonishing 43% growth rate compared to Q1’20. The details of this global research have been published online at epharmacydata.com.

The study highlights the unique opportunity for Consumer Healthcare Retailers and Manufacturers to address the new habits of consumers and patients purchasing their prescription (Rx) and non-prescription (OTC) medicine and parapharmacy products online. Out of the 96 countries having at least 1 online pharmacy, consumers can order their prescription drugs online in 47 countries. The COVID-19 pandemic, wide adoption of electronic prescription, and the modernisation of last mile logistics have worked wonders towards allowing the sale of prescription drugs through eCommerce in the last year, something that was unimaginable 5 years ago in most of the 47 countries. For example, in April 2020 the State Duma of the Russian Federation legalized within days, after years of deliberation, the online sales of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, with the exception of narcotic and psychotropic drugs.

Online Pharmacies are one of the fastest rising eCommerce sectors in the world:

  • Amazon invested heavily in the industry with the acquisition of PillPack in 2020.
  • JD Health, a unit of JD.com Inc., increased its revenue, jumping to a +76% year-over-year growth to $1.34 billion, in the first six months of 2020.
  • Alibaba-backed Alibaba Health posted a +74% revenue increase over the March to September 2020 period.
  • While brick and mortar pharmacy chains such as CVS & Walgreens in the USA surpass 100 million online visits and Boots averages 20 million online visits, pure ecommerce players such as 1mg in India, Consultaremedios in Brazil and Apteka in Russia have been growing extremely fast, with more than 20 million visits per month on average for the last 6 months, disrupting global markets with services such as doctors appointments booking, marketplace capabilities and online consultations.

The research was performed by Convert Group, the leading global ePharmacy Data firm that Consumer Healthcare & FMCG Manufacturers such as Bayer, GSK, J&J, L’Oréal, Nestlé, P&G, Perrigo, Pierre Fabre, Reckitt Benckiser, Roche, Unilever, and others trust for their data-driven strategy and sell-out insights on the eCommerce channel. Traffic data was drawn with permission from Similarweb, the global leading provider of digital market intelligence, for 3.478 Online Pharmacies in 96 Countries across all continents.

Key findings include:

  • 47 in 96 countries allow the online ordering of prescription medicine (Rx)
  • 88 in 96 countries allow the online ordering of non-prescription medicine (OTC). The only countries prohibiting it are Algeria, Cyprus, Greece, Morocco and Turkey.
  • North America was the region with the highest growth, with online visits increasing by +114%. Online visits increased by +80% in South America and +78% in Northern Africa.
  • Sweden was the leading country with 18,001 visits to online pharmacies per 1,000 residents, followed by 13,208 visits per 1,000 residents in Bulgaria, 10,418 visits per 1,000 residents in Lithuania, and x 9,739 visits per 1,000 residents in the UK.
  • Brazil has the most tier1 online pharmacies (pharmacies with more than 5M visits per average month in Q1’21) with 6 total, followed by Russia with 4, and the U.S., UK and India with 3 each.

Panayotis Gezerlis, CEO of Convert Group, commented: “During the first lockdown we saw the majority of patients & consumers across countries adopting online purchase habits from ePharmacies with tremendous speed. Many of the newcomers were also supported by ePrescription legislation being adopted across a number of countries, beside the current global eCommerce hype. In some countries more than 20% of Consumer Healthcare revenues are now originating online. We feel that, with the current growth trends, it is likely that by 2035 more than half of the total sales of Rx, OTC and parapharmacy products will be happening online, in the majority of global markets.”

The results of the study are now published on the newly-launched epharmacydata.com and will be distributed at the 2021 Global ePharmacy Summit on September 22 – 24, 2021, hosted by Convert Group. epharmacydata.com will be updated monthly to offer the global Consumer Healthcare community insights and data on one of the fastest rising sectors of global eCommerce.

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