ePharmacy is an online pharmacy which operates over the Internet and sends the orders to customers through mail or shipping companies. ePharmacies have become popular due to the benefits it offers such as access to comprehensive information, lower price on prescribed drug, on time delivery of medicines, and easy availability of drugs that are otherwise difficult to find. Patients do not have to visit the store to procure medicines rather; they can just upload the prescription from a doctor on the ePharmacy portal and receive the necessary medicines at their doorsteps. The internet has enabled consumers to gain an advantage when choosing goods and services. Consumers increasingly live in the digital world. Digital technologies have empowered consumers to seek information and interact with suppliers in the way they choose. The ePharmacies can effectively address some customer issues such as comprehensive information on the drugs or alternative for the prescription drug, easy access to the medicines that are otherwise hard to find, medicine records, and others. This can significantly help patients who are severely ill and not in a condition to go to a brick-and-mortar pharmacy. Additionally, ePharmacies can store large amounts of consumer medical data that can be useful in planning public health policies.
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ePharmacies Market: Dynamics
The epharmacy market is mainly driven by factors such as increasing internet penetration in the developed as well as developing countries, the rise in aging population, and changing mindset of consumers towards online shopping. Purchase of prescription drugs through ePharmacies eliminates the excess cost incurred in the distribution of drugs from manufacturer to end consumer by eliminating the long distribution channel. However, deepening internet penetration and easy availability of controlled prescription drugs such as stimulants, anxiolytics, narcotic painkillers, and sedative hypnotics through online retail platforms is indirectly resulting in increasing instances of substance abuse and has raised concerns for public health. The governments of developed countries are imposing stringent regulations, only after satisfying which an online retailer would be able to sell prescription drugs. This would prevent the illegal sale of drugs but would limit the market’s growth revenue generated from illegal sales of drugs.
ePharmacies Market: Segmentation
By region, the ePharmacies market is segmented into,
- North America
- Western Europe
- Eastern Europe
- Asia Pacific excluding Japan
- Latin America
- The Middle East and Africa
Operating within all the guidelines and standards set by their respective national governments, ePharmacies have emerged as ethical business entities and have become an effective source of prescription medicines.
ePharmacies Market: Region-wise Outlook
ePharmacy was prominently established in the U.S. and is now growing rapidly in European countries. The major factors driving the growth of ePharmacies in Europe include increasing penetration of high-speed internet and the consumer shift towards an online purchase of medicines. Germany is presently leading the European ePharmacy market attributed by the cross-border trade. ePharmacies are a popular concept in developed countries, however, with the increasing internet penetration and rising awareness about the benefits offered by ePharmacies, and regulations for the online sale of drugs in place, ePharmacies are expected to gain momentum in Asia Pacific as well. Asia-Pacific region is projected to display lucrative growth owing to the growing popularity of e-commerce industry, thereby resulting in the market growth of ePharmacies and increasing disposable incomes. Latin America and the Middle East and Africa are the least-tapped markets for ePharmacy owing to the high prevalence of physical pharmacy stores, the relatively high rates of the poverty rate in the region as compared to other regions, and poor healthcare infrastructure in most countries in these regions.
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ePharmacies Market: Key Players
Some of the players in the ePharmacy market include Canada Drugs, CVS Caremark, drugstore.com Inc., eDrugstore.com, Lloyds Pharmacy Ltd., Sanicare AB, Walgreen Co., Rowlands Pharmacy, Medisave, Secure Medical, Inc., and PlanetRx. Technological advancements, marketing initiatives, and switching business models are some important strategies adopted by these players. With the potential opportunities displayed by ePharmacies in the untapped markets of Asia Pacific more number of new players are emerging in this segment. The product range offered by these players is expected to increase competition among the players since consumers will have options to choose.