Driven by competitive prices and low investment requirements, these companies are now giving extensive competition to their US counterparts who seem to be losing the battle on their home turf.
The problem with purchase of drugs in US is that the government is not regulating the price of drugs there. This means that most Americans have to pay more than their counterparts in G-8 countries for purchasing essential drugs. The aggressive pricing policies pursued by the American pharmacy companies have only helped increase the rates further. This has led to US buyers frantically searching for other alternatives for buying cheaper prescription drugs and they did not have to look beyond Canada.
Operating out of Canada, most of the discount pharmacies are low-investment startups that have made healthy profits in the last few years. Even though competitive discounts are offered, low labor requirements, coupled with low initial investments and little infrastructure requirements, ensure that the balance sheets always end up on the positive side. The margins are quite handsome and an ever increasing demand inside the US has encouraged many to go in for similar ventures. In fact it seems to be quite a lucrative proposition as indicated by the number of entrepreneurs it has managed to attract in the last few years.
These stores most of which operate out of the net claim to offer confidential service that one can get at their neighborhood pharmacy store without even leaving their homes. Their advertisements claim to offer nearly 5000 prescription and over-the-counter drugs for up to 70 percent less than what is available in the American markets. Wait, there’s more one can also get generic alternatives imported from other countries at prices which may seem throwaway for most Americans.
Though the licensed discount pharmacies in Canada ask for a US prescription, the unlicensed ones just ask for the name of the required drug. The number of unlicensed online stores has seen a steady increase and it is said to be in the ratio of 2 unlicensed ones for every three licensed stores. Wide payment options are also offered one can pay in dollars, euros or even through intermediaries which facilitate easier financial transaction. The lure of cheap drugs is so much that most customers do not mind the 10-12 day wait for arrival of the ordered drugs.
The volume of business catered to by Canadian discount stores is nothing but astounding. The licensed discount stores claim to fill up to a whopping 3000 prescriptions a day. In such a scenario, one can only imaging the amount of prescriptions filled in by the unlicensed discount stores can only be guessed. Some of the licensed discount pharmacies have gone beyond just filling up prescriptions they even arrange for a Canadian physician to evaluate and co sign prescriptions. For bulk orders or for orders above $100, many discount stores even offer to ship home your purchase free of cost.
In lieu of providing such diverse array of services, it is no wonder that the industry is now said to be worth any where from $1-5 billion a year. The Canadian discount pharmacies may however face some competition from their Mexican counterparts as the industry there is now growing and soon may explore means of reaching out to customers in US. This may however happen somewhere in the next decade or so, and till then, the Canadian pharmacies will continue to sell their drugs to US customers.
The windfall profits have further augmented the capacities of these stores and many are planning to launch customized services for regular clients. Till now, word of mouth and internet search was the most common mode to reach out to customers. All this may however soon change as many stores are also planning to introduce unique marketing strategies to locate and reach out to potential customers faster. This may indicate the direction in which the discount stores are headed to in the future.