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Could the 'drug delivery' market be revived due to the medical service gap crisis?

- 5분 걸림

● The President's determination to increase the number of medical students and the resulting doctor strike issue have deepened the medical gap problem, leading the government to announce a policy of "temporarily allowing telemedicine across the board." As a result, since the 23rd, all hospitals and patients can switch to telemedicine if they wish.

● After the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine was only implemented on a limited basis. It was available in medical institutions with fewer than 30 beds, and patients were mainly those who had previously visited the hospital, with a limit of two telemedicine consultations per month for the same patient at the same hospital.

● However, with the recent policy allowing telemedicine, all related restrictions have been lifted. If the hospital desired for treatment is conducting telemedicine, even first-time patients can receive telemedicine consultations without any limit on the number of times. There is also no longer a restriction based on the size of the hospital.

● As a result, telemedicine platforms that had been somewhat retracted until recently are now actively working on service revitalization. The healthcare platform 'Goodoc' stated, "With the full permission of telemedicine, we plan to focus on seamless service response centered on user convenience." 'Ollacare' has also redesigned its service so that app users can use telemedicine 24/7 from nearby clinics, and discussions are underway to enable hospitals to operate telemedicine services as well.

● Consequently, there is growing optimism in the last-mile delivery industry that the drug delivery service, which had been fading away along with telemedicine regulations, could be revitalized. The last-mile delivery industry sees 'potential' in the drug delivery service that was temporarily allowed during the pandemic, and believes the market will reopen once the regulations on drug delivery are lifted.

● In particular, President Yoon Suk-yeol mentioned directly at a people's livelihood forum on January 30, "There is inconvenience and regret that remote drug delivery is restricted." Responding to this, the ruling party recently proposed a medical law amendment bill that includes expanding telemedicine and drug delivery through public night pharmacies as a pledge for the 22nd general election. This series of movements is being speculated to lead to pilot projects including the revival of drug delivery.

● But did you know that drug delivery is still active? Of course, it's not in the form of quick commerce, where drugs manufactured by pharmacies according to prescriptions are delivered through delivery agents like during the pandemic. Drugs that can be purchased without a doctor's prescription, such as over-the-counter drugs, hair loss medications, skin medications, and diet pills, are considered easy to deliver.

● In fact, pharmacists and last-mile delivery industry representatives with experience in drug delivery we interviewed said that drug delivery is still actively taking place through courier, quick service, and express bus parcel delivery. And already, there is no pharmacy that would refuse an incoming delivery order in an era where consumers have begun searching for the 'lowest price nationwide' for certain drugs.

● Thus, the drug delivery business, which moves between legality and illegality, is still implicitly prevalent. Not just for delivering over-the-counter drugs. Have you heard about the 'drug purchasing agent' business? A person with experience working for a drug purchasing agent company in Jongno, Seoul, said this.

"Since pharmacies are ultimately retail stores, there are quite significant price differences between pharmacies, which you may be aware of. Even now, one pharmacy in Jongno is called the 'hair loss drug holy land,' attracting many consumers. There are also places famous for selling diet pills or artificial tears at low prices.
Centered around these pharmacies, courier and quick service deliveries are implicitly prevalent. After the buyer completes the drug purchase online or by phone, the delivery company picks it up and delivers it. Some pharmacies send the drugs directly by courier.
There are even services explicitly called 'drug purchasing agents.' Many of these involve collecting prescription drugs on behalf of the customer and delivering them. Especially for purchasing drugs for more than 3 months, since the unit price and quantity are large, people seek out cheaper pharmacies even if they are far from their residence. Then, the prescription is sent to the pharmacy to purchase the drugs, which are then received through a delivery company.
Since there is no specific legal provision clearly prohibiting drug delivery, such services exist in a sort of gray area. It is stipulated that drugs should not be sold at locations other than pharmacies or stores, so delivering drugs after transactions have occurred between the pharmacy and the buyer is hard to penalize. I've heard of cases where there were no issues even after being reported to the police." - A person with experience in delivery and errand services in the Jongno district of Seoul

● Furthermore, a pharmaceutical company is attempting to build a same-day delivery network in partnership with a last-mile delivery service company. The plan is to quickly dominate the market by avoiding prescription drugs, which have become a contentious issue. A service representative forecasted changes in the market as follows.

"Two perceptions have become more widespread among consumers through the pandemic. First is that if they need a specific drug, they can gather information and find it anywhere in the nation. Second is that they can choose the lowest price whether they purchase in person or opt for delivery.
The scale of drug delivery, which has been carried on implicitly, seems to be growing. Actual pharmaceutical manufacturers or large pharmacies are preparing for the market by building delivery networks, which serves as evidence. The scenario of ordering over-the-counter drugs like water for delivery might become common around us faster than expected.
Furthermore, the advent of a remote medical era, with health status checks using smartphones or wearable healthcare devices, followed by online consultations, prescriptions, and drug deliveries, is not a far-off story. If the related government pilot project starts, the market could open up even faster, so there are quite a few movements to prepare in advance." - A representative of a delivery agency and same-day delivery last-mile platform, Person B

● Regarding this, a remote medical platform service representative mentioned, "The barrier to drug delivery service is not so much a technical issue but rather about creating a political and institutional consensus among existing market stakeholders such as medical associations and pharmacy associations." There were also disputes during the pandemic period.

● Especially since the pharmacy association is still consistently and strongly opposing 'drug delivery,' it's curious how they will respond to the ongoing market changes.

Contact us and we'll help you learn more and connect your business. cs@beyondx.ai

의료 공백 사태로 ‘약 배달’ 시장이 부활할 수 있다고요? 준비 들어간 물류업계
1. 대통령의 의대 증원 의지와 이에 따른 의사 파업 이슈로 최근 의료 공백 문제가 깊어지면서 정부가 비대면 진료를 ‘한시적으로 전면 허용’ 한다는 방침을 밝혔습니다. 이로써 지난 23일부터 모든 병원과 환자는 원한다면 비대면으로 진료 과정을 전환할 수 있게 됐습니다.
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「네카쿠배경제학」저자. 비욘드엑스와 네이버 프리미엄 유통물류 콘텐츠 채널 커넥터스 대표이자 공동창업자다. 인류의 먹고사니즘과 라이프스타일 변화에 따른 도심물류 생태계를 관찰하고, 시대마다 진화하는 공급망의 의미와 역할을 분석하는 일을 한다. 대통령직속 4차산업혁명위원회 위원으로 활동 했으며, 현재 한국로지스틱스학회 부회장으로 활동 중이다.

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