May 19, 2020

Coronavirus Impact on Pharma Industry:
Is eCommerce helping?

Author i95Dev Admin

The coronavirus (Covid-19) has handcuffed almost every industry, causing notable damage to the global economy. Companies across the world have been in dire straits trying to recoup from the crisis. By the same token, the pharma industry has been impacted in its own way. Starting from the increased cost of medicines to the disruptive supply chain, things are not in good shape.

You can tune in and listen to our audio on the impact Covid-19: Pharma Industry

Supply chain disruption leading to shortage of drugs

Coronavirus outbreak has caused a major supply chain disruption globally due to which the pharma industry has been severely impacted. Some of the world’s largest pharma companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Novartis, and Pfizer along with the smaller and medium-sized manufacturers have been bearing the brunt of it.

The broken supply chain has caused an inevitable shortage of medicines in the market. The most affected are anesthesia care, emergency care, and pain management drugs. In the course of time, experts have forecasted a major shortage of recently popular pandemic drugs such as Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine. Furthermore, drugs ranging from calcium supplements to cancer medications and HIV are predicted to face a similar shortage.

Skyrocketing cost of medicines

The impact of Covid-19 on the pharma industry has been worrisome, especially due to strict lockdown in India and China. It has resulted in a significant increase in the cost of raw materials and drugs. As per the FDA’s 2018 report, 31 percent of medical ingredients and 24 percent of medicines were imported from India. On the other hand, China is the world’s leading manufacturer and exporter of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) by volume.

The cost of generic drugs such as Paracetamol has shot up from INR 250- 300 per kilogram to INR 400-450 per kilogram. The cost of vitamins has also witnessed a surge of 40-50%. According to experts, if the coronavirus pandemic prolongs, we are likely to see a significant rise in drug prices at a global level.

Clinical trials

Coronavirus outbreak has adversely impacted the ongoing clinical trials in the global pharma industry. Since 20% of clinical trials are conducted in China, especially in Wuhan, where COVID-19 originated, delays in ongoing trials is but natural. Patient enrolments have dipped, patients have dropped out of running trials, and the usual study protocols are disturbed due to the pandemic situation.

What is the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) doing to reduce the impact of coronavirus on the pharma industry?

  • The FDA has issued three Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) to catalyse the availability of COVID-19 testing kits.
  • It is actively supporting clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines and reaching out to pharma manufacturers to tackle drug, mask and glove shortages.
  • FDA is providing feasible solutions to battle supply chain disruptions.

How is Ecommerce helping the pharma industry in the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis?

The coronavirus pandemic has evidently increased the demand for ePharma. According to global reports, the traffic for pharma eCommerce has shown a considerable amount of growth along with a positive outlook for the conversion rate. Many pharma companies are shifting from brick-and-mortar stores to online stores. Furthermore, the new ‘contactless delivery at your doorstep’ system has opened doors for an increase in eCommerce sales for the pharmaceutical industry.

Many of the suppliers have changed their strategy to support online sales by indulging in serious digital marketing. The current pandemic situation has forced many B2B pharma companies to shift online so that they are able to communicate with the buyers easily and foster sales.

From medicine deliveries, medical consultations, to other healthcare facilities, the solutions available online are helping ease the minds of people in these difficult times. More and more consumers are coming on board and benefitting from the digital space. In the near future, virtual scientific engagement and telemedicine will metamorphose the pharma ecosystem.

However, that doesn’t mean everything is milk and honey in ePharma. Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the supply of medicines has been majorly directed towards coronavirus patients that has caused a shortage of these drugs in regular supply for various other treatments.

Another challenge being faced by online pharmacies is panic buying. People are stocking up medicines. In actual fact, purchases for cough, cold and common-flu tablets have increased by as much as 198%. Most of the eCommerce pharma companies are having to make the tough decision of prioritizing essential drugs over others. There has been a 200 percent surge in online search volumes for health products related to coronavirus (COVID-19). As per Adobe, eCommerce sales of hand sanitizers and face masks have skyrocketed by a whopping 800 percent.

The show must go on with the help of Ecommerce

The pharmaceutical industry is an integral part of the society and for keeping it up and running, eCommerce is the solution for times to come. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the pharma industry is operating mostly from the digital space and many companies are adopting it who were earlier following the traditional business model of physical outlets. Pharma retailers are looking for a robust and integrated eCommerce platform that will help them deliver seamless omnichannel experiences across channels. For building a state-of-the-art futuristic online store you can take help from i95Dev. With umpteen years of experience and 180 plus clients, we are one of the oldest and established companies in the space of building online stores and integrating them with ERPs, marketing tools, and other software.

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