The amount of locally distributed pharmaceutical finished goods exceeded 60 trillion won ($53.2 billion) for the first time last year, government data showed.
The proportion of the supply by top-5 percent distributors in value terms took up 66.5 percent of the total drug distribution market last year, up from 64.9 percent a year earlier.
According to statistics on finished pharmaceutical products, unveiled by the Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service (HIRA), the supply of finished drugs reached 60.7 trillion won in 2017, exceeding the 60 trillion won mark for the first time since HIRA gathered distribution data.
The volume of the drug distribution market surpassed the 50 trillion won mark in 2015 with 52.4 trillion won, and went up to 57.1 trillion won in 2016.
As of December 2017, the number of pharmaceutical products amounted to 49,271. About 40 percent of them or 20,806 items are covered by health insurance, and the rest, not covered.
More wholesalers compete under smaller market share
The proportion of retailers among drug suppliers has increased, but their share of supply out of the total fell.
There were 2,789 suppliers of finished medicines in 2017, and 83.8 percent of them were wholesalers. In 2016, the number of suppliers was 2,118, and 81.3 percent of them were wholesalers.
Despite the increase in the number of wholesalers, their supply proportion of the drug distribution market has gone down to 54 percent (32.4 trillion won) in 2017 from 55.1 percent (31.4 trillion won) a year earlier.
During the same period, the number of manufacturers fell from 298 (11.1 percent) to 271 (9.7 percent). However, their market share rose from 33 percent (18.8 trillion won) to 34.2 percent (20.5 trillion won).
The number of drug importers slid to 181 (7.6 percent) in 2017 from 204 (6.5 percent) in 2016, and their market share also inched down to 11.8 percent (7.6 trillion won) from 11.9 percent (6.78 trillion won).
Drugs supplied for hospitals exceed \25 trillion
Medicines supplied for institutions including pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics recorded 25.5 trillion won last year, up 5.9 percent compared to 23.6 trillion won in 2016. The number of drugs went up 2.3 percent to 26,486 from 25,893 during the same period.
Among the total medicines supplied for medical institutions, 88 percent or 20.9 trillion won were prescription drugs.
By type of supplier, wholesalers supplied 62.5 percent of their drugs for pharmacies, and 24.2 percent for general hospitals, and 6.4 percent for clinics. Manufacturers and importers supplied their 70.8 percent medicines for pharmacies, 20.2 percent for clinics, and 6.1 percent, for hospitals.
Manufacturers and importers supplied only 12.3 percent of the items directly for institutions, and the rest through wholesalers.
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