Moreover, Carlton Doty, an analyst with Forrester Research, says online prescription sales will never be a big business, and that drug store chains will use their web sites mainly to build brand loyalty and drive customers into their stores.
â€œFor the average consumer the convenience of purchasing drugs online doesnâ€™t necessarily outweigh the convenience of going to your local pharmacy where one can also pick up other odds and ends for the home,â€ Doty tells Internet Retailer.
He says the main obstacle to purchasing meds online is that consumers most often need the drugs immediately. However, the survey also found that 27 percent of those who take prescription drugs regularly have used mail-order services, although these outfits also take days to deliver the meds. There was no mention, however, of concern over counterfeits.
Why the preference for mail order versus online? â€œWe didnâ€™t ask them their reasoning,â€ Doty says of the 2006 survey of 2,830 consumers. â€œBut my take on this is that mail order has been longer, and in many cases itâ€™s easier to just pick up the phone and call it in, especially for seniors who are less likely to shop online than younger generations.â€
Only 3 percent of frequent prescription takers compare prices online, although 63 percent say they like to shop around before making a purchase. And only 9 percent drug-specific web sites were useful in helping them decide what meds to discuss with their docs, while 68 percent consider their docs up to date on medical treatments and drugs.
The average age of frequent prescription takers who buy online was 49.2 years, 75 percent had at least some college and their mean household income was $72,800. And 78 percent have commercial insurance, as opposed to government plans like Medicaid.
Doty contends that the convenience factor will prevent prescription sales from ever being a big business online. He says major pharmacy chains will use their web sites mainly to build brand loyalty, and will woo consumers with loyalty cards, points and coupons, with the aim of increasing traffic to their stores.