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EFFECTS OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON THE USE OF PHARMACEUTICAL ONLINE SERVICES IN FINLAND IN 2020: CASE UNIVERSITY PHARMACY

  • At: PPR SIG 2021 (2021)
  • Type: Digital
  • By: LINDEN , Kari (University Pharmacy, Helsinki, Finland)
  • Co-author(s): Niemi M(1), Pohjanoksa-Mäntylä M(2), Kataja J(1), Manner M(1), Lehtinen K(1), Puumalainen I(1), Vuorikallas K(1) and Linden K(1) (1) University Pharmacy, Helsinki, Finland, (2) Clinical Pharmacy Group, Division of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Abstract:

    Introduction

    Supply of pharmaceutical online services has strongly increased during the last 5-10 years in Finland. These services can be provided only by the licensed pharmacies.

    Objectives

    To study the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the use of the University Pharmacy’s (UP) online services.

    Methods

    Comprehensive UP register data on sales and customer interactions of the online pharmacy (2018-2020) and related Medicines Information and Customer Service Unit (2020) and data of a cross-sectional questionnaire survey (Aug 2020) among the UP online pharmacy customers. Primary outcomes: change (index) of the number of all and prescription-medicine online pharmacy customers. Chi-square test and linear regression analysis with a limit of statistical significance of p<0.05 were utilized.

    Results

    Total sales of the online pharmacy was 2.5-fold compared to 2019. The monthly peak rate of the total customer number during the first COVID-19 wave increased by 155% in March 2020 compared to March 2019. Among the prescribed-medicines customers, the increase was highest in April 2020 by 414%. The peak was even higher in certain OTC and prescribed medicines. After the COVID-19 wave, the use rates smoothed but remained above the 2019 and 2018 rates. Use of the chat information service increased by 230%. The pandemic time corresponded the previous development of 6 months in the total number of customers and more than 3 years of the number of prescription customers. In particular, the number of older customers (over 65 years) increased.

    Conclusion

    The COVID-19 pandemic increased the use of the pharmaceutical online services in 2020, and new older customer groups adopted the services. Further research is needed to explore the future trend of the usage patterns. Online pharmacy constitutes an important source of medicines and information during pandemic. COVID-19 seemed to generate a “digital leap” of the use of pharmaceutical online services.

Last update 4 October 2019

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