ePharmacy or Internet pharmacy or online pharmacy is an online platform which acts an an intermediary between consumer and the seller for the sale of medicines via online retail platforms. ePharmacies are increasingly becoming popular owing to the benefits it offers such as lower price, access to comprehensive information on prescribed drug, round the clock delivery of medicines, and easy availability of drugs that are otherwise difficult to find. Patients do not have to physically visit the pharmacy store to procure medicines; rather, they can just upload the prescription from doctor on the ePharmacy portal and receive the necessary medicines at their doorsteps.
The market for ePharmacies is yet to achieve full potential in with the development of ethical practices and government regulations supporting the growth of ePharmacy market. ePharmacies can address number of concerns such as easy availability of drugs even in remote locations, medical records of patients, and others. With the help of ePharmacies, consumers can procure drugs from the convenience of their homes via smartphone or a tablet. This can largely help patients those who are severely ill and are 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. Ease in procuring the prescription drugs has boosted the market for ePharmacies; however, it also encouraged the illegal sale of controlled prescription drugs. The sale of drugs through ePharmacies may also result in incidents of self-medication and drug abuse, which can be prevented with the integration of most advanced technologies with drug delivery processes.
The global market for ePharmacies was valued at US$ 29.35 Bn in 2014 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.7% during the forecast period from 2015 to 2023. In 2014, North America was the largest contributor to the global ePharmacy market, in terms of revenue, followed by Europe. Europe is expected to be the fastest growing regional market for ePharmacies, and is estimated to surpass the market size reported by North America in 2023. The major factors driving the growth of ePharmacies market in Europe include increasing penetration of high speed Internet and consumer shift towards online purchase of medicines. Germany is leading the European ePharmacy market attributed by cross border trade which was pioneered by DocMorris. Asia Pacific 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.
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Some of the leading ePharmacies globally, include CanDrugstore.com, drugstore.com Inc., Lloyds Pharmacy Ltd., The SANICARE Group, Domzdrowia.pl SA, eDrugstore.MD, Walgreen Co., CanadaDrugs.com, Rowlands Pharmacy, MediSave, CVS Caremark, CanAmerica Drugs, Inc., and PlanetRx.com. These players are implementing various marketing strategies to increase their share in the market and gain more popularity and consumer acceptance. Marketing initiatives, technological advancements, and switching to different business models are some important strategies adopted by these players. With the potential opportunities displayed by ePharmacies in the untapped markets in Asia Pacific and Latin America, 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 from.