With the rise of e-commerce, you might have thought that the US would become the pharmacy nation.
And, in fact, it has.
But in the past few years, the country has seen a big surge in the number of people who shop online and are willing to pay more for drugs than people actually can.
In the US, the percentage of people shopping online rose from 22% in 2015 to 28% in 2016, according to a new report from data firm Mintel.
And while that may not seem like a huge difference, it’s enough to make people think twice about the idea of a drug discount in the first place.
“There’s a lot of evidence suggesting that people who are online are more likely to shop for drugs, and if you’re not willing to shop in stores, they’re less likely to buy,” says Ben Wieczorek, senior analyst at Mintel and co-author of the report.
This means the incentives for people to shop on the internet aren’t exactly the same as those for retail.
“It’s just like if you walk into a drugstore and you don’t want to go into the drugstore, you can’t,” he says.
It may be a little unfair to compare online pharmacies to a store, but in the long run, Wiecsorek says it’s probably better to think of them like a discount store.
“A pharmacy can’t charge you more than what you can buy at the store,” he explains.
But how does the internet compare with a traditional store?
According to Wieces, online pharmacies may offer more variety than a pharmacy can, but the difference is not as big as one might think.
And while online pharmacies tend to be small and run in countries with a lot more competition, the same goes for pharmacies in other countries.
“The average pharmacy is in the United States, so there’s a huge amount of competition,” Wiecieks says.
“But you’re still in the same business.
For example, in Canada, pharmacies like Rite Aid have more than 100 stores.
That’s more than 20,000 in Canada.”
But even in a country with fewer competitors, there is still the issue of distribution.
“There are so many pharmacies, they have to have them,” Wiesciek says.
And if you shop online, you’re in a much more direct and direct relationship with your doctor, who will have access to your prescription and your pharmacy records.
So if you are looking to purchase a prescription, you may end up spending more on drugs than you would on a regular pharmacy visit.
“If you are shopping online and you see a pharmacy that’s selling a lot, you could get a cheaper deal,” Wiedcieki says.
But for everyone else, the real value of the deal is the drug itself, and the potential savings.
As the online pharmacy business matures, Wiescsoreks says there’s still a long way to go, but he believes the market for drugs in the U.S. is worth looking at.
With the rise in e-Commerce and the ease of using a smartphone, the opportunity to buy generic and brand-name drugs is much more attractive, he says, even though the price of drugs will likely remain the same.
“A lot of times, there’s just so much supply out there, you just don’t know if you want to pay for it or not,” he notes.
To find out if you qualify for a pharmacy discount, Wiedcsorekt says, be sure to research the drug you want, and then take a look at the price on the drug’s generic website.
You can also get a pharmacy prescription online, which you can also do for a few other reasons as well.
“You can buy generic medications in a pharmacy, or you can just order it online,” Wiews says.