Analyzing own market data...“The annual growth rate will fall to just 4.4%”
Starting to rebound in the second half, recovering to the usual early next year
IQVIA Korea(CEO Jeong Su-Yong) analyzed the impact of the recent spread of Coronavirus Disease-19(COVID-19) on the domestic pharmaceutical industry and its future prospects, announced the results on the 13th.
The analysis compared the changes found in major institutions and organizations in healthcare, including pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, pharmacies, and drug wholesalers, before and after the COVID-19 outbreak, and included prospects for the overall healthcare industry in the future.
In this analysis, IQVIA Korea predicted that the domestic pharmaceutical market will grow only 4.4% this year due to the effects of COVID-19, down 4.2 percentage point(7 percentage point decrease in the first half, 1 percentage point decrease in the second half) from last year.
As the growth rate was 8.6% last year, higher than the average growth rate for the past five years, a similar growth rate had been expected this year. However, because of the effects of COVID-19, growth rate predicted to remain half the level of last year, resulting in losses of more than 800 billion won.
By region, the short-term impact in Daegu and Gyeongbuk province, which is currently focusing on COVID-19 management, is expected to be the biggest. Specifically, it is estimated that the impact of COVID-19 on sales in Daegu and Gyeongbuk would be 1.25 times greater than in other regions.
According to the analysis, the drug usage in Daegu and Gyeongbuk in the first half of this year is likely to fall short of last year’s level.
In fact, after examining the current status of outpatient prescriptions, which account for the largest portion of the pharmaceutical market, IQVIA found that the number of outpatients in hospitals has decreased sharply since the massive infection of COVID-19 began in Daegu and Gyeongbuk on February 18.
A survey of pharmacist panels held by IQVIA showed the number of outpatients in the region dropped by about 23% compared to before the COVID-19 spread and also a survey of drug wholesalers showed that the sales fell by about 13% on average.
There is a slight difference in responses between pharmacists and drug wholesaler, because the COVID-19 effect felt by pharmacists with direct relationships with consumers(patients) is greater.
On the other hand, the impact of COVID-19 was relatively small in Gwangju and Jeolla province, where the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections is low.
In a survey of pharmacists on outpatient prescriptions, the proportion of respondents who answered ‘small increase or no change’ to outpatient prescriptions compared to before COVID-19 was 12% in Gwangju and Jeolla province, higher than the overall average of 4%. The proportion of respondents who answered ‘reduced by over 30%’ was 18%, which was lower than the overall average of 34%.
The results of the survey of drug wholesalers showed no significant changes in the volume of drug purchases in the hospital in the short term, even after the outbreak of COVID-19.
In the case of in-hospital drugs, it has grown by 8.2% annually over the past five years, and recorded 11% growth rate in 2019 due to changes in various healthcare policies, including Moon Care.
However, due to the shortage of manpower for the treatment and management of COVID-19 and the efforts to minimize length of hospitalization for patients, it is expected to grow by 7.5% in 2020, which is less than the average growth rate over the past five years.
IQVIA expected various changes to occur depending on the type of medicine.
The effects of COVID-19 on medicines will vary significantly for each disease group depending on factors such as differences in patient behavior according to the nature of the disease, changes in sales of disease groups related to COVID-19, and regional difference(e.g. Seoul/Gyeonggi accounts for 64% of the cancer drug group), they said.
For example, IQVIA predicted that the impact to life-threatening disease groups, such as viral diseases, respiratory diseases and cancer which treatment cannot be postponed, would be minimal.
Chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes may have some restrictions on the influx of new patients, but existing patients are expected to be relatively less affected by a decrease in the number of patients, due to an increase in long-term prescriptions. And disease group with a high proportion of inpatient prescriptions will also be mildly affected.
On the other hand, it is expected that the biggest change will be observed in the product group used in mild diseases or used as abjuvant treatment.
In case of over-the-counter drug sales in pharmacies, excluding outpatient prescriptions, also have declined significantly since the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the analysis, the overall sales of all products have declined, not the sales of specific products in generic drugs, due to a decrease in overall patient visits.
IQVIA also conducted an investigation into the sales volume of various hygiene products in the pharmacies, which have caused the biggest social issue with the spread of COVID-19.
As a result, there was no significant change in sales of masks and hand sanitizers in early January, but began to increase from January 20, when reported the first confirmed infection.
After the second confirmed infection reported in January 24, sales of masks and hand sanitizers increased sharply, and overall sales in pharmacies also increased significantly.
Subsequently, the sales volume of hygiene products, which slowed down for a while due to the lack of supply of masks along with the stabilized number of confirmed infection, began to increase largely from February 18, when the 31st confirmed infection reported.
The increase was more pronounced in pharmacies in Daegu. During this period, the proportion of masks and hand sanitizers sales among the total sales of pharmacies in Daegu increased from less than 1% in early January to around 30%.
Meanwhile, IQVIA predicted that the domestic pharmaceutical market would recover in the second half of 2020 and rebound to the usual level in early 2021.
In this analysis, the results of a survey of about 300 pharmacists and 11 major drug wholesalers held by IQVIA and the domestic and international pharmaceutical market data were utilized to analyze the impact of the spread of COVID-19 on the healthcare industry and the prospect for the future.