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Growth in online pharmacy sales during pandemic drives pressure on UK pharma & logistics

Growth in online pharmacy sales during pandemic drives pressure on UK pharma & logistics

The UK e-commerce market is the 4th largest in the world with an estimated revenue of £77 billion in 2020, placing the country ahead of Germany but behind Japan. Unprecedented growth in online business in general is placed squarely on the shoulders of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in pharmaceuticals, the frequency of product shipping and timed deliveries is skyrocketing.

Dispensing volumes of e-commerce pharmacies grew by 45% in 20201, resulting in additional pressure on pharmaceutical warehousing and logistics facilities. Increased demand for storage space brought home just how important choosing a reputable, flexible and innovative storage and logistics partner is for your business.

“During the pandemic, pharmacies have had to quickly adopt an online approach to handling the ever-growing demand for medicines and goods. According to Statista, it’s estimated that there are over 390 ‘distance selling’ pharmacies active in the UK today alone,” says Marcus Sanders, Executive Director at Clarity Pharma, a UK pharma and healthcare consultancy and logistics provider. “Clarity has been approached by more online pharmacies than ever before, which highlights the popularity of online pharma products. Disruptions in the shipping industry, marked by tight capacity and upward pricing pressure, is forcing pharmaceutical shippers to implement more agile and effective means of distribution and to provide additional capacity in authorised facilities.”

Shipping pharmaceuticals involves the transportation of high-value medications and requires fully compliant, premium warehousing and logistics facilities that offer ambient and chilled storage conditions, as well as Home Office and Medical Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approvals for controlled drugs; all critical in an industry beset by product fraud.

“In the pharma industry, one of the most important take-outs from 2020 was the need for more agile and efficient pharma distribution partners that could cope with the demands of the new e-pharmacy growth and unexpected supply chain issues. Clarity Pharma is ideally positioned to offer solutions to these challenges and is seeing an increase in demand from the e-commerce pharmacy sector as a result,” Sanders confirms. With its recent Home Office Controlled Drugs Licence approval, Clarity now boasts an impressive warehousing capacity, which includes a state-of-the-art controlled drug vault and 578ft of controlled drugs space.  

As online purchases in the healthcare market grow, so does prescription fraud and a host of illegitimate e-pharmacies; examples of pharmaceutical fraud include the issuing of fake COVID medication and false cures for other illnesses. Many distributors in this fraudulent market are from less regulated countries, where medications are often easily accessible online.

“It is critical that healthcare providers, e-commerce pharmacies and pharmaceutical distributors work together and stay vigilant to expose these counterfeit items and companies,” says Sanders. “To be competitive, companies must remain compliant and adhere to the various rules and regulations to avoid fines that could add to the overall cost of doing business online. Working with fully accredited partners with a responsible person dedicated to compliance, like Clarity Pharma, is key to securing peace of mind.

“E-commerce pharmacies will continue to play a vital role in today’s supply chain and at Clarity Pharma, we understand this unique business environment. Our team provides world class warehousing and logistics services to those seeking to grow their presence in the UK healthcare market, as well as a range of value adding services around regulatory compliance and commercial market access.”

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Last Updated: 01-Sep-2021