The global ePharmacy market size was valued at USD 71,278 million in 2021. It is expected to reach USD 2,31,061 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 13.96% during the forecast period (2022–2030).
E-Pharmacy is a business concept that, like traditional pharmacies, handles the preparation and sale of prescription and nonprescription medications. However, online pharmacies accept online orders and ship medications via postal mail. E-Pharmacy is a way through which the internet is utilized to sell and ship pharmaceuticals and medicines to customers. The internet makes everything simple and convenient. Patients having a valid prescription from a licensed physician can obtain medications online and deliver them to their homes. The global market for ePharmacy is substantially propelled by a growth in the proportion of internet users, an improvement in healthcare infrastructure, a rapidly growing elderly population, and an increase in population knowledge of e-commerce enterprises.
Furthermore, the change in consumer behavior accompanied by a growing need for convenience is a significant element in expanding the global market for ePharmacy. In developing and expanding economies, the expense of healthcare is an increasing concern; therefore, internet pharmacies can be used to reduce costs, as they offer various advantages, including significant discounts on medications and consumer convenience. It also saves additional costs, such as transportation, which decreases the financial load on individuals. Due to these characteristics, it is anticipated that internet pharmacies will flourish over time.
It is envisioned that the global market for ePharmacy will expand throughout the projection due to the expanding utilization of online services around the globe and the expanding utilization of e-prescriptions in healthcare practice. The expansion of the global market for ePharmacy is anticipated to be hampered by several factors, including the proliferation of unethical online pharmacies and a lack of market penetration in rural regions of emerging nations.
The expanding availability of internet systems across the globe has substantially increased the accessibility of web-based and online services and facilitated the development of numerous new market entrants, which has also increased the accessibility of web-based and online services. This element is anticipated to substantially affect the expansion of the global ePharmacy market. The web-based and online services offer several benefits to their customers, including heavy discounts on purchases, coupons, 24x7 availability, and security, among others. As a result, the popularity of online pharmacies is growing among the population. As internet access increases in remote areas, the adoption of the e-pharmacy model is estimated to rise, driving the growth of the global ePharmacy market.
Moreover, due to the growth potential of the ePharmacy market, numerous new companies are acquiring, launching, or expanding their businesses into the online pharmacy domain. This will increase demand, along with the online services in the region in medicine delivery and is estimated to positively affect the growth of the studied market.
For instance, Amazon.com, Inc. established Amazon Pharmacy in the United States to deliver prescription medications in the country in November 2020. The company provides its consumers with co-pay and non-insurance options and a substantial drugstore discount for its Prime members. Due to the increased access to web-based and online services in pharmacy, it is anticipated that the adoption of these services will increase globally. Consequently, the global ePharmacy market will expand significantly over the forecast period.
E-prescription is the electronic prescribing feature that allows healthcare professionals to send prescriptions electronically instead of handwritten prescriptions. This technology can significantly improve the efficiency of pharmacy operations and pharmacy management. This reduces the likelihood of prescription errors when interpreting doctors' handwriting on paper prescriptions. Thus, with the rise in e-prescriptions, pharmacy operations and management efficiency will improve.
The implementation of electronic prescription structures in hospitals and other healthcare services is also anticipated to enhance patient safety and aspect of care, decrease the amount of time spent on communication between pharmacists and physicians, automate the prescription renewal process, and, above all, save time. E-prescription enables the physician to replace the same drug with a lower price, reducing the excessive costs spent by the patient and the cost of healthcare.
Given these factors, the global application of e-prescription in healthcare services is expanding, which will favor the market and lead to the expansion of the global ePharmacy market. Also, due to the government's activities and support for the electronic prescription system, the global acceptance of e-prescription is expanding. It is anticipated that the global ePharmacy market will continue to grow over the forecasted period.
The low penetration of online pharmacies in rural regions due to a lack of online connectivity and fewer internet users, particularly in emerging and under-developing countries, is anticipated to harm the performance of the global e-pharmacy industry. Based on a report by the World Economic Forum in April 2020, almost half of the population worldwide does not have a reception to good internet, and less than one in five individuals in the least developed nations are online.
Further, the report suggests that approximately 87% of the population in developed countries is connected to the internet. In contrast, only 47% are connected in the developing nations and just 19% in the least developed countries. This data demonstrates a huge indentation gap in internet connectivity around the world. As most of the world's population resides in developing or under-developing countries, the growth of the global ePharmacy market is expected to be primarily hampered by these factors.
According to research published by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in October 2020, around 71% of the urban population in Latin America and the Caribbean has access to the internet. Still, just 37% of the rural population does. In addition, according to the same report, 32% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean does not have an internet connection, and 77 million people in the region's rural areas lack access to internet services that meet minimum quality standards. Consequently, the low penetration of internet access in rural areas decreases the penetration of online services in the region, which is anticipated to negatively affect the growth of the global ePharmacy market.
With the advent of e-commerce and the internet's rise as the world's largest marketplace where anything can be purchased, online pharmacies promise a massive growth opportunity for the foreseeable future. Thus, medical products and pharmaceuticals are now available online via e-pharmacies, which may make future medication delivery as convenient as possible. The expanding geriatric population, the frequency of chronic diseases, and the prevalence of the common cold are driving the demand for pharmaceuticals.
Home healthcare services are fast becoming favored for chronically ill elderly patients. When given the option, most seniors prefer to spend their golden years in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes. Thus, elderly people worldwide accept home healthcare as a cost-effective method that leads to patient satisfaction, less strain on hospital bed occupancy, and lower hospital infection rates. Thus, the increased demand for online pharmacies results from the significant need for home healthcare services among the elderly or target patient group.
The increasing collaboration between online and offline pharmacies may also contribute to the future of global ePharmacy market expansion. For instance, in January 2020, 111 Inc. signed a strategic agreement with Bestyoo to provide its users with online prescription drug buying and home delivery services. In addition, since most of the worldwide population utilizes digital services and products, such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and visual search, and as internet access spreads to additional regions, the global ePharmacy market is anticipated to expand in the coming years.
The global ePharmacy market share has been segmented based on drug type, product type, and region.
Based on drug type, the global ePharmacy market is segmented into Over-the-Counter (OTC) and Prescription Drugs.
Over-the-Counter Drugs are expected to hold the largest market share, growing at a CAGR of 13.3% during the forecast period. Over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceuticals do not require a prescription from a doctor and are readily available in pharmacy stores; hence, they are often called non-drugs. The popularity of the over-the-counter (OTC) medicine is increasing partly because of growing prescription drug costs and increased worries about safety (Rx). Rx-to-OTC conversions are on the rise in every aspect of drug product design.
According to data issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) in 2020, the FDA has converted more than 700 prescriptions (Rx) items to over-the-counter (OTC) status over the past three decades. This number will continue to rise, contributing to the segment's expansion. OTC medications are gaining popularity worldwide primarily owing to rising out-of-pocket healthcare costs, as they are less expensive than prescription drugs, readily available, and do not require a doctor's prescription. As a result, they provide a superior option in which patients can obtain medications without a prescription and at a reduced price.
Prescription drugs are only available with a doctor's instruction since they are typically very potent and widely abused pharmaceuticals. These medicines include opioids, depressants, and stimulants; as a result, they are frequently abused and can lead to addiction or even death in overdose situations; hence, the regulatory authorities strictly monitor these substances. With the increasing demand for prescription pharmaceuticals, the introduction of new drugs and the emergence of new market participants would boost the growth of the prescription drugs market sector over the forecast period.
Based on product type, the global ePharmacy market is segmented into Skin Care, Dental, Cold and Flu, Vitamins, Weight Loss, and Others.
The cold and flu segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.5% by 2030. Infections like cold and headache are prevalent worldwide. Increasing consumer knowledge of e-pharmacies and a rapidly expanding patient population are two of the causes driving growth. Due to the ease of acquiring medications, the global online sales of cough, cold, and flu medications have increased dramatically.
The other product segment comprises dietary supplements like vitamins and minerals, among others. These supplements are frequently combined with other medications to treat minor ailments to severe, long-term conditions. They assist in increasing immunity, enhancing wellbeing, and helping in the quicker recovery of illnesses. As the population has become more aware of their health, there has been an increase in the popularity of taking vitamin supplements. Although most people can meet their nutritional needs through dietary means alone, many patients choose to use a multivitamin supplement to ensure they are in the best possible health. This trend is likely to drive the segment of other products.
The regional segmentation is done as North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and South America.
North America is expected to hold the largest market share, growing at a CAGR of 4.31% by 2030. The US will contribute heavily to the regional growth during the forecast period. Attributed to the prevalence of retail behemoths on the online market, the Us also has many internet users and thriving ecology of online purchasing goods. Between 2020 and 2021, the proportion of web users in the United States climbed by 11 million.
In addition, internet usage in the US reached 90% in January 2021. Consequently, the growing number of internet users and the increased use of online services would contribute to expanding the global ePharmacy market over the forecast period. The nation's market participants employ many strategies, including new launches, collaborations, partnerships, and acquisitions. Consequently, the increasing usage of the internet and the rising prevalence of chronic diseases are projected to boost the growth of the global ePharmacy market throughout the forecast period.
Europe is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.1%, generating a revenue of USD 25,819 million by 2030. The region’s country Germany, contribute massively to the regional growth. In Germany, a change in consumer behavior characterized by greater demand for comfort is also one of the primary contributors to market expansion. In addition, the increased usage of e-commerce and digital technology in the healthcare industry is anticipated to stimulate growth. Rising imports of over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceuticals, relaxation of relevant restrictions, growing awareness of self-medication, and increasing healthcare expenses drive ePharmacy market expansion.
In Germany, medications recommended for symptoms, such as pain, the common cold, cough, and fever, and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals formerly covered by insurance are no longer covered. Due to the ease of acquiring prescriptions and the substantial discounts, these businesses offer, the online selling of cough, cold, and flu medications have increased dramatically in the region. In addition, the increasing usage of information technology in the healthcare industry enables clinicians to submit prescriptions electronically, which is anticipated to stimulate market expansion.
Asia-Pacific is expected to be the fastest-growing region during the forecast period. China is a significant contributor to the regional market. The growing prevalence of internet use throughout the country, advancements in healthcare infrastructure, the enormous burden of chronic diseases, and users' growing awareness of e-commerce are primary factors influencing the online pharmacy industry in China. One of the most critical aspects contributing to the expansion of the regional market is the change in consumer behavior that has resulted in an increased desire for convenience.
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