News - 27 March 2020

Online OTC products market grows by 20% a year

Online sales of OTC products – medicines, dietary supplements, and dermocosmetics – amounted to almost PLN 1.3bn (€303m) in 2018, according to a new report from PMR, “Online OTC products market in Poland 2019. Market analysis and development forecasts for 2019-2024”. The analysis covers sales in online pharmacies and other e-shops.

By 2024, online trade in OTC products will double

According to estimates presented in the report, the combined sales of OTC medicines, dietary supplements, and dermocosmetics in online pharmacies as well as dietary supplements and dermocosmetics in other online stores grew by a fifth in each of the last two years, and totalled almost PLN 1.3bn (€303m) in 2018. The rate of growth will gradually slow down in the coming years, mainly due to the saturation of the segment. Even so, its value in 2024 will be more than twice the figure in 2018.


The market will be positively influenced by optimisation of websites and purchase procedures, increased access to smartphones, the tendency of Poles to save money (the increase in disposable incomes is not so high as to change their behaviour in this area), as well as growing interest in, and usage of, the online channel among the elderly. Lifestyle changes, e.g. the increasing number of Poles taking part in sports activities, will positively influence sales of nutrients, for which the internet is an important distribution channel.


Strong growth of household consumption, a good situation on the labour market, and rising disposable incomes (additionally influenced by the Family 500+ programme) will also contribute to a significant increase in the value of the online OTC products market. At the same time, within the forecast horizon, a gradual slowdown in the growth rate of consumption and wages is expected, unemployment will stabilise and the population and number of employed will decrease, which will also slow down the growth rate of the market’s value.


Find comprehensive information about the current state of the Polish online OTC products market in the PMR report:


Online OTC products market in Poland. Market analysis and development forecasts for 2023-2028. Impact of inflation and war in Ukraine.

Bricks-and-mortar pharmacies remain the main channel for buying OTC drugs

Eight out of ten adult Poles bought an over-the-counter drug in 2018. Bricks-and-mortar pharmacies remain the main channel for buying OTC drugs, used by about 90%. Pharmacies are also the main place to buy dermocosmetics and dietary supplements, but these two product categories are also purchased from other sales channels slightly more often than medicines. This is understandable: not all OTC medicines are allowed to be sold in non-pharmacy outlets, but no such restrictions apply to supplements and dermocosmetics.

Between 2016 and 2018, the percentage of respondents reporting having bought a drug in an online pharmacy increased significantly, to 19%. This is not surprising given that online sales have been growing by tens of percent annually. There has been a slight increase, too, in the percentages who buy medicines through auction websites (currently 4%) and in drugstores (14%). Auction websites are also where online pharmacies operate, recording very high sales growth. On the other hand, drugstore chains, after a period of very dynamic store expansion, are currently focusing on growing sales in existing stores, e.g. by expanding their offer.

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Justyna Zagórska

Senior Analyst