Online pharmacies and hospital pharmacies are seeing exponential growth in volume and value respectively, while community pharmacies fail to even realise half of potential MUR claims, noted Carol Alexandre, vice president at IQVIA, a leading health data analytics company.

Speaking at the Sigma Conference in Muscat, Oman on 18 February, Alexandre quoted NHS Business Services Authority figures to reveal that independent pharmacies across England could have claimed £13.2 million more in Medicines Use Review (MUR) counts for the year ending on September 2018. The sector claimed only £11.6 million out of a possible £24.8 million.

Regional chains also lag behind in this metric, claiming £9.3 million from a possible £12.3 million, whereas managed chains (£19.7m out £20.5m), national multiples (£4.5m out of £4.7m) and supermarkets (£3.4m out of £3.8m) almost hit the target.

“Independents are taking 47 percent of available funds. Every other sector has increased over the last 12 months. Managed chains have gone from 87 percent to 97 percent,” Alexandre pointed out.

When it comes to the number of prescription items, online pharmacies, particularly P2U, is witnessing phenomenal growth. Although they represent only 2.3 percent of the market, the growth rate over the year was a spectacular 23.3 percent, with P2U doubling its item volume with 107.5 percent growth. However, independents still corner about one third of the prescriptions items market.

Online pharmacies’ strong performance in Electronic Prescription Service nominations are helping them greatly to take items from bricks and mortar stores, said Alexandre. While independents perform relatively better, online pharmacies are outperforming the market in EPS nominations also.

The UK market has declined in term of volume (-1.2%) in 2018, according to IQVIA data, but experienced robust growth in value (+4.3%), solely driven by hospital pharmacies. They now command a 51.4 percent of the £23 billion medicines market, riding on a 10.5 percent growth. On the other hand, retail pharmacies which deal in 90.3 percent of the m

UK Pharmaceutical market will decline by 2-5 percent in next five years, but hospital market will continue to grow faster than retail, Alexandre said.

Between September 2017 and September 2018, independents and regional chains added 52 and 79 stores respectively, whereas managed chains closed 174 stores. National multiples and supermarkets also closed five and two shops respectively.

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