The pharmaceutical industry in 2022 finds itself at a crossroads. One of the major challenges faced by the industry is affordability/access. For example, there is ample evidence that prescription drug costs are increasing. From 2006 through 2020, retail prices for 65 chronic-use, brand name drugs rose cumulatively by an average of 276.8%. That was significantly higher than the cumulative general inflation rate of 32% during that time period. Healthcare firm GoodRx reported that, during January 2021, the prices of 832 drugs rose by an average of 4.5% (pharmaceutical companies usually increase prices in July and January). Although the EU is handling the situation via international cooperation and transparency, the competition among pharmaceutical companies is limited due to US patent laws and mergers and acquisitions in the industry. Overall, there is a lack of transparency in the price of drugs, and the ability of governments to negotiate drug prices is statutorily limited. Although the EU is better off than the US in almost every aspect when it comes to drug affordability and access, that does not mean that there are no improvements to be made. Some of the improvements are coming through the private sector via companies like eFarma.
The Online Pharmacist
Founded in 2011, eFarma had a turnover of thirty million dollars in 2021, and has set itself even more challenging and ambitious growth targets for 2022. The headquarters are located in Baia, where 70 employees work with a view of the Mediterranean. Though prosperous now, the company was not always on sure footing. According to the CEO Francesco Zaccariello, “I started in 2011 when there was no legislation on the online sale of drugs, and few believed it. With my team, we have been good at having the right ideas for the market, but above all at putting them into action”. But the vision of eFarma has always been the complete digitalisation of the pharmacy shopping experience, offering a 360° online service that is as close to the needs of the final consumer. The customer, through the online platform eFarma.com, has a catalogue that counts more than 65 thousand products, columns dedicated to health advice, a customer care that meets the needs of users and a logistics service capable of organising the shipment of orders in a short time.
The company’s growth has had several key phases. Mr Zaccariello continues, “Looking back, I think there were three decisive phases in the construction of eFarma: the first was my transition from a young pharmacist to a startupper, with the desire to put into practice what I had learned in the field. Then the transition from startupper to a more structured entrepreneur when I started to involve other collaborators in the project. And then a third phase with the decisive support of business angels and investment funds that financed the project with five million dollars”. Thanks to the company’s strong and steady growth, it was acquired by Atida Group. No longer just an Italian company, eFarma will enter the European market thanks to Atida’s 4 million customers and 700 employees throughout Europe and offices in Germany, Spain, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands. Now, the company is entering its most exciting chapter: true international expansion.