Prescription drugs enter the retail market, opportunities and challenges coexist

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In the past two years, more and more prescription drug manufacturers have begun to pay attention to the drug retail market. On the one hand, the drug bidding and procurement policy leads to lower and lower drug prices, on the other hand, the drug retail market share continues to grow and become more and more attractive.

Relevant data show that in 2015, the growth rate of China's drug retail market was 11%, of which retail pharmacies accounted for 8.5. With the deepening of the new medical reform, the state encourages the outflow of hospital prescriptions and continues to increase investment in primary health care, and the proportion of prescription drug sales in pharmacies continues to increase.

At present, the prescription drugs sold in pharmacies mainly come from hospital prescriptions, and the growth rate of prescription drugs in many urban pharmacies has far exceeded that of OTC.

The industry believes that the country's advocacy of the separation of medicines, the increased awareness of consumers' self-medication, and the demand for chronic disease management in an aging society have all promoted the growth of prescription drug sales in pharmacies.

So, what are the leading drugs that will be sold in pharmacies in the future? The author believes that the high-growth varieties sold in pharmacies will be a variety of "rich diseases" caused by the improvement of living standards, as well as various diseases caused by the accelerated pace of life and the pressure of work.

At present, there are still some problems in the sale of prescription drugs in pharmacies. First of all, some pharmacies do not strictly implement the regulations on selling prescription drugs by prescription. Secondly, prescription drugs are not stored, displayed and managed in accordance with GSP regulations. Thirdly, with the improvement of consumers' professional demand for safe drug use, the professional knowledge and services of pharmacy staff have been unable to keep up with the development. The industry believes that the pharmacy prescription drug sales operation model is not yet mature, from DTP (direct drug supply) to MTM (drug treatment management), pharmacy prescription drug sales model exploration has been on the road.

There is no doubt that the entry of prescription drugs into the retail market has brought great development opportunities to pharmacies. Drugstores not only enrich the product regulations and enhance the brand, but also large enterprises often enter the retail market for prescription drugs, which to a certain extent enhances the popularity of pharmacies and has a large profit margin. The downside is also obvious. Drugstores often have to increase investment in opening up special areas and setting up special counters to provide consumers with experience space. In addition, after pharmacies increase prescription drug zones and counters, high-level pharmaceutical service personnel will be added, and labor costs will increase accordingly.

The following author puts forward some suggestions on the sale of prescription drugs in pharmacies: first, pharmacies should increase the brand publicity of prescription drugs and cultivate consumers' brand recognition of pharmacies. The second is to use the market-oriented price advantage and service advantage of pharmacies to attract hospital prescriptions and cultivate loyal consumer groups. The third is to strengthen the work functions of licensed pharmacists, improve the level of professional services, and if conditions permit, they can be equipped with sitting doctors to improve the level of diagnosis and medication. The fourth is to improve the personalized and value-added service level of pharmacies, enhance the consumer experience of purchasing drugs, and attach importance to membership management.

The author is full of expectation for the prospect of selling prescription drugs in pharmacies. At present, the outflow of hospital prescriptions is still relatively limited, the concentration of the pharmacy industry needs to be improved, the sales behavior of pharmacies needs to be further standardized, the health transformation of pharmacies needs to be developed, and most e-commerce companies have not really made profits. These uncertainties have increased the imagination space for prescription drugs to be sold in pharmacies.

To sum up, the author believes that the challenges and opportunities of prescription drugs entering the retail market coexist, and the reform has just begun. (Wang Qinggang)