Coronavirus outbreak: Pharma market grows 9% in March due to panic buying

However, some therapy areas that are driven primarily by fresh prescriptions, like dermatology, gynaecology, vaccines, have seen a dip in sales.
Despite a nationwide lockdown that disrupted the distribution of drugs across the country and fresh prescription generation, pharmaceutical sales in March registered an 8.9 per cent growth. This was primarily on account of panic buying of medicines in the chronic categories.

 
Cardiac therapy drugs, for example, saw a 19.8 per cent growth compared to 11 per cent in February, anti-diabetic therapy, too, saw a strong growth of 18.2 per cent in March, compared to 11 per cent the previous month. With the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, sales of respiratory medicines too saw a sharp spike at around 23 per cent.

 
However, some therapy areas that are driven primarily by fresh prescriptions, like dermatology, gynaecology, vaccines, have seen a dip in sales. Some other chronic therapies like gastrointestinal, pain and analgesics, and vitamins have seen low single-digit growth rates.

 
The cardio-diabetic division head of a Mumbai-based pharmaceutical major said distribution was a major challenge.

 
“Our sales have been approximately 80-85 per cent of what we would usually sell in a month. This was because stockists and distributors were unable to take our products due to the logistical crisis on account of the lockdown. The C&F (clearing and forwarding) agents requested that we do not push products as movement from warehouses was difficult,” he explained.

 
Despite this, because of panic buying in the chronic category, the cardio-diabetic division has seen good traction as patients stocked up. He added that medical representatives were not allowed in hospitals for almost the entirety of March and the lockdown eventually stopped all movement of the sales force.

As for corporate firms, Ipca saw a 20.9 per cent growth in March followed by Torrent and Ajanta Pharma at 16.2 per cent and 15.2 per cent, respectively.

Wockhardt, which banks primarily on acute therapy medicines, and Biocon saw reduction in sales.

 
In February, the domestic pharma market recovered from single-digit growth to a 12.1 per cent growth riding on higher demand for respiratory medicines as well as antibiotics. In fact, in February eight of the top 10 therapies in the domestic market registered a growth of over 10 per cent.

 
On a moving annual turnover (MAT) basis, the Indian pharma market clocked a 9.8 per cent growth to Rs 1.43 trillion as of March.


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