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Demonetisation: People banking on pharmacies to use their old currency notes

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Pharmacy chains across India, which continue to accept old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 following the government’s demonetisation decision on November 8, have emerged as the last hope for a large number of people who are hoarding medicines used for treatment of chronic diseases in exchange of old notes.

According to an analysis by pharmaceutical market research company AWACS, chemists and pharmacy chains across India have seen their sales grow many-fold due to the impact of demonetisation. The domestic pharma retail market in November recorded its highest growth in the last 14 months with growth in the organised pharma retail market jumping to 21.5 per cent in November.

“This clearly shows some chronic patients have used old notes to prepone their medicine supply for 2-3 months. Overall chronic therapy may gain 10-15 per cent additional sales in November,” said Ameesh Masurekar, Director of AWACS.

“I think, fearing the cash crunch, people were concerned if they will have money to buy medicines, so that’s why we saw many of the regular buyers bought before time,” added Dharmil Seth, cofounder of e-pharmacy startup PharmEasy.

The sample size for the analysis formed 2 per cent of the total pharma market. Researchers looked at seven weeks sales starting October 11.

The sale of acute therapy drugs like regular antibiotics, among others, which makes up nearly 60 per cent of total Indian pharma market, has seen a sharp dip.

“It looks like people have delayed going to the doctor for their “small illness” in order to save cash, Masurekar said.

This would have extended to their decision of buying medicines too,” Masurekar added.

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