Why are physical pharmacies so much more expensive than online stores for the same medicine?

Industry insiders said that relevant departments should guide pharmaceutical companies to recommend drugs based on consumers’ real needs so that they can buy affordable drugs offline.

  Our newspaper, Beijing, January 29th (Reporter Liu Xiaoyan) “On January 21st, I felt a sore throat, so I went to a chain pharmacy near the community to buy medicine. A 150ml box of Chuanbei loquat ointment and a bottle of ginger brown sugar were just for the price. It cost me 72.5 yuan." Today, Ms. Fang, a consumer who lives in Yueyang City, Hunan Province, reported to a reporter from the Workers' Daily that she found that medicines in physical stores are much more expensive than in online stores.

  According to Ms. Fang, there was no price marked on the pharmacy counter or on the outer packaging of the product, and the clerk did not take the initiative to introduce it, so she just scanned the QR code to pay. Later, under her questioning, the clerk replied that the price of ginger brown sugar was 42.5 yuan. However, the reporter searched online and found that the same old ginger brown sugar only sold for about 28 yuan online.

  "A bottle of anti-inflammatory medicine costs nearly 50 yuan, and ordinary isatis root costs more than 20 yuan. Among them, it is difficult for ordinary consumers to know the costs of pharmaceutical factories and intermediate links, and the profits of pharmacies. The information gap has caused the price of medicines to be inflated." Recently, Gansu Province Mr. Wu, a citizen of Lanzhou, told reporters that anti-inflammatory drugs of the same manufacturer and specifications were sold on online platforms for about 37 yuan, but Mr. Wu spent 52 yuan when purchasing them in physical pharmacies; the same isatis granules were sold in physical pharmacies. The price is 23 yuan, and the purchase price in online pharmacies is around 10 yuan.

  A chain pharmacy salesperson told reporters that due to the high costs and competitive pressure of physical pharmacies, drug prices are generally higher than online platforms. Each store of a physical pharmacy has monthly sales requirements, among which the sales of health products and precious medicinal materials will be particularly assessed. "Both online and offline sales are included in the store's monthly sales, and the business of the two channels does not conflict. However, offline sales often have more opportunities to promote to customers, and some high-margin drugs are often recommended first."

  Xiao Chao, a citizen of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, told reporters that she had also encountered situations where affordable medicines purchased offline were rejected. "The vitamin C at home has expired, so I bought it at the drugstore downstairs. The clerk promoted a vitamin C with health benefits, and it was sold in packages. You can buy several boxes at a time, which costs about 200 yuan." Xiaochao said that he only wanted to buy it. I asked for a bottle of vitamin C for a few yuan, but was told that I needed a doctor's prescription.

  Xiaochao, who failed to buy the medicine, immediately searched online and found that the store was selling affordable vitamin C for 2 yuan a bottle on the takeout platform. "I placed an order for takeout on the spot and didn't encounter any problems, including not being asked for a prescription," Xiaochao said.

  According to data released by the State Food and Drug Administration, as of the end of 2022, there were more than 640,000 pharmaceutical operating companies in my country, with more than 200,000 new companies added in 10 years. Industry insiders said that with the rapid growth of market scale, the characteristics of intensification, concentration and scale of the pharmaceutical retail industry will become increasingly obvious.

  Industry analysts pointed out that relevant departments should guide pharmaceutical companies to target consumer demand and recommend drugs based on their real needs, so that they can buy affordable drugs offline. At the same time, drugstore operators should ensure the harmonious coexistence of online and offline business channels to meet the needs of consumers under different circumstances. (Worker Daily)