A pharmacy that can be accessed over the internet wherein licensed healthcare practitioners can prescribe medicines which can thereafter be delivered at the respective patients’ doorstep is essentially known as e-pharmacy giving rise to the eponymous E-Pharma market. Besides prescribed drugs over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can be obtained through a similar platform as well.
Population Aged 65+ of High-Income Countries (Forecast in Thousands)
Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division
The factor that is a part of dominating drivers that are anticipated to strengthen the growth of the market during the next few years is the expanding section of the elderly population in developed economies. Elaborating further, driven by a decrease in fertility and advancements in the rate of survival which in turn is derived from developments witnessed all over the world that are of economic and social nature which have had a positive impact on medicine through investments in constant R&D, thus improving the overall public health. As a result, and evident shift in ages, the structure has occurred with subsequent cohorts having a longer life span with fewer children. Moreover, according to the estimations by the United Nations (UN), by the year 2059, one out of six people will be over 65 years of age. This is a reported increase from one in every 11 people which were the estimates for 2019 and accounted for 9% of the world population. Further in 2019 people who were over 65 years or over accounted for 703 million persons, around the world. This is figure is forecasted to double in 2050. Moreover, the count of individuals who are aged over 80 years of age is estimated to triple in 2050 that will constitute a population of 426 million from 143 million in 2019. Before all foregoing, the year 2018, the total number of children under 5 years of age was surpassed by surpassing the number of individuals who are over 65 years of age.
With respect to health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that mild to moderate disability over the past 30 years (counting from February 2018) still exists. Further WHO also notes that common conditions among the elderly population are inclusive of but not limited to back and neck pain cataracts and refractive errors, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dementia, depression, diabetes, hearing loss, and osteoarthritis. Moreover, there are other conditions that people at this age are more susceptible to and which can’t be explicitly delineated within the purview of discrete categories of diseases. This is commonly known as geriatric syndromes which stems from multiple underlying factors and include delirium, frailty, pressure ulcers, urinary incontinence, among others. In view of there have been several geriatric medicines that are being developed. Thus, along with the availability of OTCs, the requirement for such drugs, which has been made possible to be purchased from the comfort of one’s home is anticipated to drive the E-Pharma market during the next few years.
Pharmaceutical Products, EXPORT (World)
Source: International Trade Centre
In Thousands of US$
From the perspective of the pharma industry, heavy and continuous investments in R&D initiatives and big-budget marketing campaigns have resulted in new product innovations. Further to respond to the need for solutions addressing an increasing degree of chronic diseases, a wide variety of opportunities have presented itself that the pharma industry is judiciously capitalizing on. Moreover, the accessibility of torrential data has led to the availability of actionable intelligence and has enhanced the pharmacoeconomic performance of different medicines, a part of which the E-Pharma market is expected to benefit from as well as contribute to, during the next few years. Moreover, the gradual expansion of self-medication also has resulted in a profusion of OTC medicines and substitutes. Additionally, the scientific foundation that supports the entire pharmaceutical industry is being adequately reinforced because of a host of advancements in areas like genomics, analytics, Bigdata, among others. Before all foregoing, the situation that has been brought about by COVID19 has necessitated the players in the pharma industry to engage with each other in an unprecedented manner as well as facilitate cross border cooperation in pharma product development. Moreover, national governments are increasingly investing in campaigns that promote prevention than cure which also is another reason for the innovation of prophylactic measures.
Another important aspect through which national governments bring about a sea change in their national healthcare landscape thus signaling a global change is the integration of e-solutions available for both patients and doctors and pharma players. In this regard taking the example of Estonia, a nationwide centralized and paperless e-prescription system that is used by doctors, patients, and pharmacies, was launched in 2010 by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. Witch reportedly resulted in 84% prescription issuance, a year after the launch progressing to 99.9% in 2019 that constituted 10 million prescriptions each year conveying the acceptance of the system and the benefit of the error-free and time-saving method. Therefore, precedence has already been set for the current players in the relatively embryonic e-pharma market to take inspiration from.
The other factor that has achieved recognition as the backbone of ICT industry and is anticipated to drive the growth of the E-Pharma market during the next few years is the expanding reach of eCommerce which along with the support form courier services and the ubiquity of high speed can be also accessed by consumers who are living in relatively remote areas. To this end, it is important to note that according to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) worldwide sales pertaining to eCommerce had reached $25.6 trillion in 2018 which constituted 30% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). Moreover, due to the current condition of COVID19 to which the world has succumbed, has further catapulted the use of eCommerce. Further, the gross merchandise value of the world’s top 10 B2C companies in 2018 was to the tune of 2$ trillion., while the value of global B2B eCommerce in 2018 was $21 trillion, which accounted for all eCommerce activities. Besides the factors of expanding elderly population, increasing scope of self-medication, growing opportunities of pharma product developments, the profusion of eCommerce, free trade agreement facilitating the ease of cross border trade and customer convenience, aspects such as environmental sustainability achieved by elimination of paper use, supply chain, and product transparency, dissemination of value-added information about the concerned drug thus increasing the awareness of the consumers, among others, are expected to propel the E-Pharma market to a new echelon.