More Convenience Stores Selling OTC Drugs in Korea

Just under 30,000 convenience stores in South Korea now sell over-the-counter drugs, after they were granted approval in November 2012 to supply four groups of medicines: antipyretic analgesics, cold medicines, digestive drugs, and pain-relief patches. The 29,813 stores that now sell OTC drugs is double the number in December 2012. Prior to the rule change, pharmacies had exclusive rights to manage pharmaceutical products, including OTC drugs. The country is the third-largest pharmaceutical market in Asia, with an OTC market estimated at $4.1 billion in 2016, predicted to reach $5.78 billion by 2021—a CAGR of 7.11% (Market Data Forecast). The growth in the OTC market is being fueled by an increase in self-medication and a growing geriatric population with chronic diseases. Pharmacists express concerns that the easier availability could lead to a rise in cases of drug abuse.