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The China pharmaceutical e-commerce market has seen robust growth in the post-pandemic era

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, in the first quarter of 2023, the national online retail sales increased by 8.6% year-on-year to reach RMB 3.2863 trillion. Of this, the online retail sales of physical goods amounted to RMB 2.7835 trillion, up 73% year-on-year, accounting for 24.2% of the total retail sales of consumer goods. Against this backdrop, the Chinese pharmaceutical e-commerce market has experienced strong growth in the post-pandemic era.


01 Strong growth in Q1, with the market size expected to approach 100 billion yuan in the next three years.


During the pandemic, there has been a rapid growth in online demand for purchasing medicine. According to Sandalwood's monitoring data of China's e-commerce market, the size of the pharmaceutical retail e-commerce market reached 47.1 billion yuan in 2022 (excluding vertical e-commerce and O2O parts), and it is predicted to reach 81.9 billion yuan by 2025. In Q1 2023, the sales of China's online retail drug market reached 14.5 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 51%, with chemical medicine growing by 48% and Chinese patent medicine growing by 52%.

02 Chinese patent medicine grew rapidly during the pandemic and remained resilient across categories.


As the pandemic has gradually come under control, the Chinese patent medicine market has returned to growth in Q1 while continuing to demonstrate a strong upward trend. The size of the Chinese patent medicine e-commerce market reached 16.57 billion yuan in 2022, a year-on-year increase of 34%, and in Q1 2023, it increased by 52% year-on-year.

The category of tonifying kidney/anti-aging drugs has regained its position as the mainstay of the market and remains the leader in the efficacy category of the Chinese patent medicine e-commerce market, with a YoY growth rate of 27.8% in Q1 2023. 

On the other hand, the position of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular drugs in the Chinese patent medicine industry is gradually rising, with a YoY growth rate of 80% in Q1 2023. In March, the market share of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular drugs achieved double-digit growth both MoM and YoY, ranking second among the efficacy categories of the Chinese patent medicine industry, only after tonifying kidney/anti-aging drugs. The market share in a single month in 2023 hit a new high, breaking historical records.

03 Strong growth momentum in the online retail market of Western medicine in Q1 post-pandemic period


The online retail market of Western medicine has also demonstrated strong growth momentum in Q1 2023, with a YoY growth rate of 48%. Among them, demand for antipyretic and detoxifying drugs has reached a new high, with a YoY growth rate of 840% in Q1 2023; and as an antiviral drug, Oseltamivir phosphate has also gained high attention in a short time, with a YoY growth rate of 3282% in the online market in Q1 2023.


In the post-pandemic era, people's demand for immune drugs continues to rise, and the consumption of minerals and vitamins has shown a double growth trend. In Q1 2023, the retail e-commerce market for minerals and vitamins has increased by 29% YoY.

04 Single-product hot sellers continue to emerge, and products are diversifying


The outbreak of the pandemic has led to a continuous rise in demand for the popular product Lianhua Qingwen, which maintained a 201% YoY growth in Q1 2023, with a sales volume of 115 million yuan, surpassing the total for the entire year of 2021.


An-Gong-Niu-Huang pills, which rank first in the market for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease drugs in the Chinese patent medicine e-commerce market, saw a 173% YoY growth in Q1 2023 and rose to the top of the Chinese patent medicine e-commerce market.


Ibuprofen has become the "new favorite" in the market due to optimization of epidemic prevention measures, achieving an 891% YoY growth in Q1 2023 and a continuous high-speed growth since 2022, allowing consumers to re-recognize and redefine its value.


Novo Nordisk's semaglutide, which is popular worldwide, achieved a 774% YoY growth in Q1 2023, with demand exceeding supply, indicating that weight-loss drugs will be the next popular variety.


05 The Chinese pharmaceutical e-commerce market has a good foundation for development, and innovation is the future


Entering a new cycle in the post-pandemic era of 2023, the pharmaceutical e-commerce market maintained an upward trend in the first quarter, indicating that the market will continue to grow.


As the country supports the healthy development of the platform economy, online consumption, social and live e-commerce will continue to play an important role in further promoting the prosperity of the pharmaceutical e-commerce market. Consumers' habit of hoarding medicine and buying medicine online during the pandemic, as well as the strengthening of preventive awareness, will also contribute to the sustained expansion of the pharmaceutical e-commerce market. In addition, the pharmaceutical retail industry needs to constantly innovate and provide consumers with more convenient and secure channels and services for purchasing medicine.


Strengthening the construction of drug traceability systems and improving the safety and traceability of drugs; promoting the integration of online and offline to meet the diversified needs of consumers; promoting health management services to help consumers better maintain their health.


In conclusion, in the post-pandemic era, the Chinese pharmaceutical e-commerce market has a good foundation for development and a promising future. However, as market competition intensifies, enterprises need to constantly innovate to respond to potential challenges in the future. Only in this way can the pharmaceutical e-commerce market achieve sustainable and healthy development.

Disclaimer: The content and viewpoints expressed in this article are for reference purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice or recommendations. very investor should conduct thorough independent research and consult with professional investment advisors before making any investment decisions.
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