Aleve, a non-prescription pain medication, is one of Bayer’s best-selling American products, worth around $485 million in sales last year. But this year, its sales figures are down 10 percent. Bad news for the German pharmaceuticals giant, and a clear sign of a revolution in over-the-counter (OTC) drugs sales worldwide.
The “Amazon effect” is what experts are calling the new dominance of online drug sales, a trend that is rapidly transforming the OTC market in America and beyond. “Power is increasingly shifting toward e-commerce,” says Bayer CEO Werner Baumann, calling it a “difficult situation.” The new online competition is putting severe downward pressure on prices.
The trend is not yet advanced in Germany. Although online outlets like Doc Morris and Shop-Apotheke have tempted some customers, most still go to Germany’s highly-regulated pharmacies to stock up on aspirin and ointments.