The latest data culled from a pharma research firm by TOI, along with a survey on patient billings of health supplements, indicate that purchases have nearly halved during the July-August period from the corresponding period of the previous year. Immunity supplements witnessed a downslide, from being present in 92% of bills in June 2020 to around 49% in August this year.
For instance Zincovit, manufactured by Chennai firm Apex Labs, after hitting the highest monthly sales ever of over Rs 80 crore in May, dropped by over 60% in July. Last year in October, the 30-year-old brand dethroned the largest-selling Human Mixtard (insulin). Experts said substantial sales of multi-vitamins assume significance in a market where the top order is dominated by anti-diabetic therapies, indicating a strong need to prop one’s immunity during a raging pandemic.
During May, other supplements like Becosules (Pfizer), A to Z (Alkem) and Shelcal (Torrent) also recorded high sales of Rs 30-50 crore, according to healthcare service provider IQVIA. Vitamin D plain & combinations, and Vitamin C also witnessed high sales after the resurgence of Covid this year.
A similar trend had played out in August last year, with 74% of retail billings having at least one immunity booster, while this year it declined to 49% in the same month. In the first week of September, it further reduced to 43%, a study of over 2 lakh bills by research firm Pronto Consult showed.
Pronto Consult founder Karishma Atul Shah said, “There was a nearly 58% drop in the purchases of immunity boosters in August as compared to the corresponding period last year. However, there was an increase in antibacterials and derma-related brands. Chronic brands were also purchased, but lower as compared to August last year.” Though there’s been a drop over the last few months, sales of vitamins and immunity supplements are still 20-30% higher than the pre-Covid level, a top executive with a market player said. Presumably, companies ramped up production to meet the higher demand.
The Pronto Consult study says that increase in cases of viral infections, dengue, stomach-related ailments, headache, itchy eyes and sneezing seem to have pushed purchases of acute-related therapies. Hygiene products have seen huge spurts and continue the trend of being present in bills. Overall, the pharma retail market jumped nearly 14% to Rs 1.73 lakh crore (12-year period ended July), buoyed by higher sales of acute therapies of anti-infectives and respiratory drugs, and certain chronic medication including anti-diabetics.