October 10, 2004

Prescription Drugs Online

Part 4. Implications for the future

Ignorance and mistrust of the online prescription drug market may be dispelled by further research and good experiences.

Only 4% of Americans have purchased prescription drugs online. A majority of Americans profess fear and mistrust of the online pharmaceutical market. However, there are indications that Americans could change their minds about the safety of online prescription drug purchases, especially as the debate heats up nationwide. 

Window shoppers may become buyers

The online travel industry saw a 90% growth rate between 2000 and 2002.9 Internet users who have done travel-related research online are more likely to have made a travel purchase on the internet than those who have not done such a search. If an increasing number of Americans goes online to research prescription drugs, online pharmacies may see an accompanying increase in customers.

Convenience is a strong selling point online

Convenience is the number one reason why banking became the fastest-growing online activity between 2000 and 2002, when the industry saw a 164% growth rate. The same trend may hold true for online pharmacies since 84% of Rx purchasers say that convenience was important to their decision to buy online for the first time.

Satisfied customers say they will return

Nine out of ten Americans who have purchased prescription drugs online say they plan to do so again. Those who were dissatisfied with their purchase are unlikely to cite reasons related to fears about drug safety. As more municipalities and states encourage online prescription drug purchases, it seems likely that the universe of potential satisfied customers will grow.10

  1. “Online Banking” (Pew Internet Project: November 17, 2002) Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2002/Online-Banking-2002.aspx
  2. “Montgomery Passes Drug Import Plan” (Washington Post: September 22, 2004) Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A39932-2004Sep21.html