(Yicai Global) Aug. 13 -- Sales of drugs in China have slowed down in the first six months this year while online pharmacies and local health centers have increased their market shares.
The sales grew 6.9 percent to CNY859 billion (USD125 billion), which was 0.7 percentage point less than last year, official data from the China Food and Drug Administration shows, yet not explaining the reasons behind the decline.
The figures cover three sales channels of public hospitals, clinics, and retail drug stores, but not private health institutions. Last year, the largest market players were public hospitals with CNY1.5 trillion worth of drugs sold, most of which was covered by urban clinics. Physical and online pharmacies delivered CNY364.7 billion of medicine and medical institutions such as community health centers sold CNY151.7 billion of drugs.
Online drug stores' sales climbed most rapidly in the first half of this year with a 43 percent increase from last year to CNY5 billion. China has considered restricting e-pharmacies from selling prescription drugs due to a lack of verification but the proposal has not been passed yet. The market is expected to reach CNY140 billion in value by 2022, data from Shenzhen-based consultancy Forward Industry Research Institution shows.
Local health centers were another high earner amid the general downturn in growth. These township centers witnessed a higher growth rate in their drug sales with a five-year compound growth rate of 15.5 percent, far higher than that of urban public hospitals, Zhang Buyong, general manager of industry news portal Menet told Yicai Global, attributing the shift to an ongoing medical reform.
China started upgrading its public healthcare services in 2005 with a New Rural Co-operative Medical Care System to take better care of its rural citizens with insurance programs.
Drug sales of urban medical centers rose 12 percent in the first six months of this year to CNY31.9 billion. Township health centers' sales increased 10 percent to CNY50.5 billion during the same period.
Editor: Emmi Laine