Sales of medicines for chronic ailments rise because of demonetisation: study

Sales of diabetes, blood pressure medicines, dermatology products and some over-the-counter products have risen since demonetisation was announced on 8 November


As the acute segment accounts for almost 60-70% of total pharmaceutical products’ sales, the rise in sales of drugs for chronic diseases may not be able to fully offset the weakness in the acute category. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
As the acute segment accounts for almost 60-70% of total pharmaceutical products’ sales, the rise in sales of drugs for chronic diseases may not be able to fully offset the weakness in the acute category. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Mumbai: Sales of drugs for chronic ailments such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and neurological disorders have risen since the demonetisation of Rs500 and Rs1,000 currency notes as legal tender on 8 November as patients stock up medicines by exchanging old notes at pharmacies, which were among the few places accepting old banknotes.

“Chronic therapy has been the biggest beneficiary, which clearly shows some chronic patients have used old notes to prepone their medicine supply for 2-3 months. Overall chronic therapy may gain 10-15% additional sales in November,” market research firm AIOCD-AWACS said in its note on impact of demonetisation on pharmaceutical products’ sales.

A local chemist in Mumbai said sales of diabetes and blood pressure medicines, dermatology products and some over-the-counter products have increased over the last two weeks but sales of small-value or low-priced medicines have been sluggish.

Sales of medicines in the acute therapy segment, which includes anti-infective drugs, pain management medications and drugs for gastrointestinal diseases, have declined, the note said, adding that companies having high presence in the acute segment could see a 20% drop in sales in November compared to October.

As the acute segment accounts for almost 60-70% of total pharmaceutical products’ sales, the rise in sales of drugs for chronic diseases may not be able to fully offset the weakness in the acute category.

AIOCD-AWACS expects a 4-5% fall in total sales in November from Rs9,513 crore in October.

“For us the main problem is giving change to customers for high denomination notes. The cash withdrawal limit from banks is not enough and plus we are not getting enough Rs100 and Rs50 notes. What I have seen that purchases of basic medicines, which are generally priced low, has reduced and people are buying higher quantities of some expensive medicines and consumer products like deodorants, diapers and shampoo,” Mahendra Gupta, owner of Maruti Kripa Medical & General Stores in Mumbai, said.

A chemist in the Santacruz suburb of Mumbai said demonetisation has not had any significant impact on sales but there has been a huge jump in payments through debit/credit cards and through online wallets like Paytm.

As far as pharmaceutical companies are concerned, some distributers are asking the companies to extend credit period by a week or so but that is unlikely to have any major financial impact, analysts said.

“Early indications show that there is a pick up in chronic category but acute segment has seen fall in sales. There would be some impact on companies but it is too early to predict the quantum of the impact,” said C.T. Renganathan, managing director of RPG Life Sciences Ltd.

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