An “ePharmacy” is a pharmacy that operates fully over the internet. It has all the same functionality as a brick-and-mortar pharmacy but allows customers to purchase medicines online that will then be delivered to their homes. All orders are verified and checked by registered pharmacists, who then forward the validated prescriptions to stores from where the medicines are dispensed.
The benefits of ePharmacies include that they are convenient and safe for customers. Furthermore, they can often offer low prices and a great variety of options. ePharmacies have become increasingly popular alongside a broader rise in interest in ecommerce. Consumers today are looking for convenience at every corner.
The market for online pharmacies was valued at $60.5 million globally as of 2020, according to a new study from Zion Market Research.
The market is expected to more than double between now and 2028. Globally, the ePharmacy market is on track to reach a whopping $132.3 billion by the end of the forecast period, the report says. This will follow expansion which will reach 18.3% growth annually at its peak.
Reasons for Growth
The growth is in part driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pushed more people to rely on online — instead of in-person — services. The onset of the pandemic “has resulted in strict implementation of social distancing norms and face to face interactions, thereby boosting growth of [the] e-pharmacy market,” explains the report, noting these impacts will likely linger through the forecast period.
Cultural factors are also playing a role. For example, Canada and North America are seeing increased interest in ePharmacies because of surging geriatric populations and enhanced healthcare infrastructure facilities. For low and middle-income countries, ePharmacies make it easier for those who otherwise wouldn’t have immediate access to medicine. This is helped by a growing trend toward smartphone use across the globe.
There is also the role of a rise in occurrence in chronic ailment, which has led to a higher demand for healthcare products and a broader rise in demand in the healthcare industry.
The global ePharmacy market is made up of a number of big brick-and-mortar pharmacies that have expanded into the space, along with newer startups that have gained prominence.
The report names The Walgreens Company, CVS Health, Walmart, The Kroger Co., OptumRX, and Express Scripts Holdings Company as some of the biggest businesses in the ePharmacy industry. A reflection of the competition of this market today, both Walmart and Amazon recently rolled out customer benefit programs offering prescription drug savings in an effort to stand out.
The significant growth of this market has also opened the door for entrepreneurs, with a handful of startups very successfully seizing on the momentum. For example, Capsule, an online pharmacy started in 2015, surpassed a $1 billion valuation in April of this year after a new capital funding round.
About the Author
Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.