Digitalization of Pharmaceutical Business in Ukraine


Timanyuk Iryna1, Bondarieva Iryna2, Malyi Volodymyr3 Pharmacy, Associate Professor, National University of Pharmacy, Ukraine.

2C.Sc. in Pharmacy, Candidate, National University of Pharmacy, Ukraine.

3D.Sc. in Pharmacy, Professor, National University of Pharmacy, Ukraine.

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



This article analyzes the level of transformation of the pharmaceutical business in Ukraine and the willingness of pharmacy enterprises to switch to new digital technologies. Given the new reality and the global COVID-19 pandemic, digital transformation will affect the pharmaceutical markets of all countries. The current situation contributes to breaking out of the comfort zone and enhances transition to new technologies and opportunities. Pharmaceutical companies are forced to use digital technology, and develop remote contact with customers. Currently, 4.1 billion people in the world have sustainable Internet access and the amount of users is growing by 1 million daily, with 2.8 billion people making purchases on the Internet. Simultaneously, the portrait of the average digital user is changing – the age is increasing, now it is a group of people aged between 25 and 44. The age group mentioned above can be described as potential “golden” consumers of pharmaceutical institutions – at such age financial capabilities meet appearing chronic diseases. Global trends have a crucial impact on the pharmaceutical sector; more flexible companies are already introducing modern technology into their day-to-day operations. A number of large pharmacy enterprises in Ukraine have new digital technologies at hand: online chats for client consulting; mobile applications; online orders and goods reservation; record of customer purchases; gamification of customer acquisition; bonuses that can be monetized in the network of pharmacy stores; disease coaching, etc. General trends in digital transformation are seen particularly well in the retail section of the pharmaceutical business. The process of personification of pharmacies as brands and products manufactured in pharmacy conditions is clearly monitored. Pharmacies that own web pages, despite the similarity of the information provided, try to maximize personification of the information presented and protect it from plagiarism. There is a visible relaunch of the collaborative consumption model, new uncommon partners are attracted, thanks to which the customer base is expanding. The new opportunity arises for real-time purchases with the maximum automation of this process and minimizing the time spent on purchases. Also, the article outlines the directions in which Ukrainian pharmaceutical enterprises begin to develop, as well as the barriers and reasons that impede this development.


KEYWORDS: Digital technologies, digitalization, transformation of the pharmaceutical business, innovation.




The pharmaceutical business operates in the age of the digital revolution, when almost every consumer cannot imagine their life without digital technologies (the Internet, various devices and services), and the faster they develop, the faster changes the pharmaceutical sector environment.


Therefore, the pharmaceutical business cannot work according to old models - it must change, otherwise there is a big risk to fall behind competitors, or even stagnate. Therefore, sooner or later, all pharmaceutical companies will have to accept the new rules of the game and experience the digitalization process.



In the course of the study of the usage level of digital technologies by pharmaceutical enterprises, pharmacy institutions of Ukraine were analyzed as well. The solution of the tasks was carried out on the basis of the implementation of general scientific research methods in the framework of comparative, logical and statistical analysis, as well as by analyzing the structure and dynamics of the development of the digital services market, graphical interpretation of information and questionnaires.



Digitalization of a business is an extremely broad concept that does not offer a single right solution for each company. The power of digitalization is in its individuality and flexibility. Any business can partially or fully digitize its processes and increase its efficiency. The main goal of the digitalization of the pharmaceutical business should be to meet the needs of consumers, which change with the development of technology. In addition, modern technology can be used for other purposes:

·       To improve pharmaceutical services: to enhance the quality, attractiveness, usability, individual approach, systemize data, etc.;

·       To automate internal pharmacy production and other internal pharmaceutical processes;

·       Simplification of internal and external communication.


Transformation of the pharmaceutical business by using digital technologies will give pharmaceutical companies a number of benefits - increase in competitiveness, it will help to save money, simplify data records on both goods and customers, build a positive image of the company and increase customer loyalty1.


In the process of conducting research, it was found that Ukrainian pharmacy enterprises widely use the Internet and mobile network, while at the same time, neglecting such tools as virtual reality, blockchain, neural networks, big data, advanced analytics, cloud storage, etc. (Fig. 1).


Fig. 1. The use of digital technology in pharmacies


Fig. 2. The use of digital technology by end consumers


It can be concluded from the data obtained that:

·       56% of pharmacy enterprises began to use digital technology, transforming the delivery of pharmaceutical services to the needs of their consumers;

·       27% of enterprises have just begun to get acquainted with digital technologies;

·       16% of pharmaceutical enterprises attract and serve customers using information technology.


Most of the interviewed managers of pharmacy enterprises (73%) are aware of the large-scale impact of digital technologies, but they cannot determine which technologies to implement, on what level and in what sequence to build them up, since they cannot predict the result of such an implementation for the next 3-5 years.


An analysis of the level of use of digital technologies by end consumers (Fig. 2) showed that in general the consumer expands the list of technologies used. However, the level on which consumers use technologies differs significantly from the level of pharmacy enterprises. So, the use of virtual reality among end consumers is 28%, while pharmacy enterprises do not use it at all. Meanwhile, in our opinion, there is a possibility of introducing virtual reality into the activities of a pharmacy enterprise. For example, for previewing medical devices in 3D format via mobile applications. In this case, the end consumer can visualize the product before purchasing it, see its actual dimensions and form a preliminary opinion. Cloud storage and advanced analytics are also more widely used by end consumers. At the same time, pharmacies more actively use the Internet, primarily due to the automation of the process of ordering drugs from suppliers, as well as using the intra-pharmacy network, which fully functions when connected to the Internet.


The end consumer is only increasing the volume of Internet use, so as of September 2019 the figure was 71% (22.96 million users). 65% of Ukrainians have Internet access at home (21 million people). It should be noted that in 2019 there was a leap in the growth of network users (Fig. 3).


Fig. 3. The dynamics of the use of the Internet by end consumers in Ukraine


For a more detailed study of the possibility of digital transformation of the pharmaceutical business, a portrait of a potential consumer of digital pharmaceutical services was compiled (Fig. 4).


Fig. 4. A portrait of Internet user in Ukraine


The majority of Internet users in Ukraine are women with 51.7%, most users are young people aged 25 to 34 years (25%). Least of all to go online are people over 65 years old, only 8%. A significant part of users have an average and below average income level - 44% and 40%, respectively 2. Most of all among regular Internet users are specialists engaged in non-physical labor.


As for Internet devices used, for 66% of regular users it is a mobile phone or smartphone (Fig. 5). For a significant part of new users, the smartphone became the first and only device to access Internet in 2019. For 40% of users, the Internet access point, except for a smartphone, is a home laptop, for 36% - a desktop, for 5% - a desktop at work, for 4% - a work laptop, and 2% - a computer in an Internet cafe.


62 % of Internet users in Ukraine made online purchases over the past year. Based on location of people who shop online, economic development is not the main factor determining the use of e-commerce in the country. For instance, the availability of language versions on websites, that is, of at least two languages: Ukrainian and Russian, turned out to be much more important. It is vital to note. however, that there was an urgent need for an English version of the pharmacy website on the market, given that about 300,000 foreigners are currently residents of Ukraine, and at least 14 million foreign tourists visit the country annually.


Fig. 5. Key Internet Access Points


Online purchases are more often made from a mobile phone than from a laptop, although most people use both devices for online shopping. The choice depends on the type of product and circumstances. Thus, studies have shown that more than 28% of Ukrainians make online purchases using smartphones.


Given the existing trends and the results obtained, the aim of further research was to study the capabilities of digital technologies and platforms for transforming the pharmaceutical business and improving the quality of services provided.



The studies show the integration of the main and potential consumers of drugstores to an online network. Ukrainians are getting increasingly more engaged with virtual reality, online purchases, communicating, creating communities, learning expert opinions, etc. On the one hand, this creates new opportunities for the pharmaceutical business, and on the other hand, leaves no choice, since the rejection of digitalization will lead to significant losses and even possible collapse. In Ukraine, large pharmacy chains are already rapidly introducing new digital technologies into their daily operations:


Consulting chat rooms with clients:

·       Mobile applications of their enterprises;

·       Online orders and reservation of products;

·       All purchase records;

·       Gamification of customer acquisition, bonuses that can be monetized in the pharmacy chain;

·       Client coaching on disease prevention (which was especially apparent in the fight against COVID-19), etc.

Having analyzed the information available, we traced the general trends in the digitalization of the retail pharmaceutical market:


1. Personalization of products:

The transition from the mass products for all consumers to individualized products. Pharmacies automatically track user searches and purchases to offer them medications or medical products in accordance with their interests3. At the same time, the process of “branding” of the pharmacy institutions themselves is also being traced to distinguish their goods and services from many similar ones. Over the past 3 years, the number of registered trademarks (names of pharmacies) in Ukraine increased by 17%.


2. Customized content:

Companies that own websites try to have exclusive information and often diversify official information about medicines with expert opinions, additional research, consumer reviews, etc. 4.


Prepared texts contain a lot of information about a particular pharmacy which is difficult to be copied for another website.

In most cases content customization of pharmacies in Ukraine in includes the following information:

·       History of the pharmacy institution, information on its achievements and awards (94%);

·       Names of company employees, pharmacists’ appeals, mentioning trademarks (59%);

·       Medicine and medical devices prices (98%);

·       Special promotions, discounts, loyalty programs that are only available in this company (83%);

·       A list with addresses, contact information and maps of outlets (100%);

·       Part of the information is placed in the form of pictures protected by a watermark (27%);

·       Hyperlinks to other sections of the site, the lack which leads to incompleteness of texts (31%).


3. Collaborative consumption is a rather old economic model based on the collective use of goods and services, rent and barter instead of ownership. At the same time, it is gaining new digital features, in addition to the classical possibility of renting medical devices, such as crutches, stilts, wheelchairs, etc., more modern services began to appear, for example, coupons - previously not used in pharmaceutical business. Website of certain companies offercoupons that give a large (up to 70%), but temporary discount on their own pharmaceutical cosmetics. As a result, the pharmacy gains new customers, and the service site receives a fee for coupons. It can be predicted that in the near future new peculiarities of collaborative consumption will appear, for example, the emergence of networks for the exchange or rent of medical devices or the delivery of medicines by “passing” customers. Such a service exists in the UK, where, during the morning run, participants make purchases in pharmacies and deliver them to people with disabilities and the elderly 5.


4. Real-time purchases is an opportunity to minimize the process of communication with customers offline, by transferring consultations and orders online. The buyer selects the necessary drug with one click, and picks up the order in any pharmacy convenient for them.


5. Omnichannel – in the past, Ukrainian pharmacies clearly distinguished such business models as online and offline, now they have been integrated one into another. Since Internet pharmacies are prohibited by law in Ukraine, but Internet orders are legal, omnichannel becomes the most effective model. In the case of online orders, they are supplemented by the pharmacist advice. Both of these elements work interconnectedly, helping and enriching each other, and not vice versa. The bottom line is to create a single environment for communication with the client, which consists of different communication channels (calls, social networks, instant messengers). A customer may start communicating with the pharmacist by phone, then continue it in the pharmacy chat, go to the order page and so on, while pharmacies will acquire all the necessary information about the client.


6. A new level of automation manifests itself in the automation of not only standard processes but complex processes as well.


Analysis of available information allowed us to identify a number of areas in which Ukraine is lagging behind in its digital development:


1. Electronic prescriptions. In Ukraine, there is no practice of using electronic recipes. They are only used for free medicines under the “Affordable Medicine“ program, while in developed countries such type of prescriptions is widely used. A pharmaceutical company PillPack [6] automatically receives electronic prescriptions from doctors and then customizes the order for the consumer - sorts medicines in the package taking into account the time and days when the pills should be taken, as well as producing medicine for individual prescriptions.


2. Personal pharmacist. The ability to contact the same pharmacist via telephone or the Internet. A personal pharmacist should know the client’s medical history and have information about all types of prescription and over-the-counter medicines that the patient takes. Such a professional is able to assess all the factors associated with the general health of the client, and provide suggestions and recommendations that are suitable for them. A personal pharmacist should answer all questions concerning medicines, how they are used and how they work, which side effects they may have, how they interact with other medicines and food, etc. A personal pharmacist is able to provide the client and their family with access to the best medicines and pharmaceutical services that are necessary for a full and healthy life. Such services are already widely used in the USA and Canada 7.


3. Medicine delivery. It is quite difficult to argue the demand for such a service. A number of studies show that the modern buyer is willing to pay for delivery, as they value their time the most. At the same time, many modern delivery services are introducing the most advanced technologies - drones, robots, etc., which greatly simplifies the process and reduces delivery time. Meanwhile, drug delivery is not permitted by law in Ukraine, since online purchases of medicine are not legalized. Nevertheless, there are services that take an over-the-counter drug orders, purchase them on their own behalf at the pharmacy, and deliver them to the consumer. These services are in high demand, not only due to the opportunity to save time, but also taking into account the personal circumstances of many clients. In Ukraine, there are a lot of lonely people who, in case of getting ill, are unable to go to the pharmacy or there are people with disabilities, in which case they rely on help from their neighbors or turn to such services. However, in the world there are many successful examples of how drug delivery can be organized: for instance, when drugs are delivered within no more than 2 hours in New York, or by drones in Europe8,9-14.


A general analysis of the Ukrainian pharmaceutical market made it possible to identify a number of reasons that inhibit the introduction of digital technologies by pharmaceutical enterprises:

·       Low awareness - many chiefs of pharmaceutical companies do not have a clear understanding that digital transformation itself is not a priority goal, and their knowledge of modern technologies is very fragmented and superficial.

·       Lack of specific skills – many enterprises do not have the practice of creating and introducing innovations, others do not have sufficient resources.

·       Organizational structure – in most cases, pharmaceutical enterprises are focused on operational tasks and minimizing risks, rather than creating value for end consumers.

·       Legislative framework – there is a number of restrictions in Ukraine, and there are no necessary laws for the general transformation of the pharmaceutical business.



Based on the results of the studies, it has been justified that the digital transformation in the pharmaceutical sector is inevitable. Given the diversity and number of digital services and opportunities that are increasing exponentially, leading pharmaceutical companies in Ukraine form consumer preferences and change retail requirements. Such enterprises create new improved products and services for the client, which helps to increase the efficiency of the company's business processes.


In fact, digital innovation affects the pharmaceutical retail chain in three areas: customer service, business processes, and business models. The key areas of application of digital technologies are business processes in pharmacies and personnel management processes, digital marketing and others.


For effective digital transformation, pharmaceutical companies need to be open for new technologies and use a systematic approach to innovation management. It would be useful to adapt to modern digital tools for generating ideas and launch pilot projects, to understand the need for digitalization through “action learning”.



1.      Dhara Parekh, Pankaj Kapupara, Ketan Shah. Digital Pharmaceutical Marketing: A Review. Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology. Jan., 2016; 9(1): 108-112.

2.      State Statistical Service of Ukraine. Available from: URL:

3.      D. Bhavyasri, K. Manikandan, R. Kamaraj. Marketing Approval for Medical Devices in European Union. Research J. Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology. March 2019; 12(1): 391-395.

4.      Ganesh R. Bharskar, SuhasS. Siddheshwar. Digital Marketing In Pharmaceutical Sector. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Science and Health Care. 2020; 10(2): 121-128.

5.      Roz Glover. Pharmacy run. Available from: URL:

6.      PillPack. Your medication, delivered Available from: URL:

7.      The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy. 5 Reasons to have a Personal Pharmacist. Available from: URL:

8.      ZipDrug Pharmacy Network. Available from: URL:

9.      Dilip. N. S., G. Devakumar. An Analysis of Technological Capabilities and Business Eco-system through Radical Innovation for Sustainability of Start-up Companies. Asian Journal of Management. 2019; 10(2): 149-152.

10.    Dimpy Sachar, Harshmeet Kaur. Impact of Digitalization in an Organization and its importance in Knowledge and Value Management System. Asian J. Management; 2017; 8(1):37-48.

11.    Raghunandan G, Harshita GK, Jyothi A. Impact of Digital Money Post Demonetization on the Indian Economy - A Descriptive Study. Asian Journal of Management. 2018; 9(1):741-744.

12.    Pratiksha Tiwari, Kartika. Impact of Digitalization on Empowerment and Transformation of Society. Res. J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 2019; 10(2):305-310.

13.    Tanya Chatwal. Digitalization of Higher Education in India: A Boom or A Bane. Res. J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 2019; 10(4): 1083-1088.

14.    Sachin S. Rajmane, Sushil R. Mathpati, Jairaj K. Dawle. Digitalization of Management System for College and Student Information. Research J. Science and Tech. 2016; 8(4):179-184.





Received on 22.04.2020            Modified on 28.02.2021

Accepted on 30.07.2021           © RJPT All right reserved

Research J. Pharm.and Tech 2022; 15(4):1555-1559.

DOI: 10.52711/0974-360X.2022.00259