Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: 200% rise in demand for supplements in UAE pharmacies

Ashwani Kumar /Abu Dhabi Filed on June 2, 2021
A customer checks vitamin supplements at a pharmacy in Abu Dhabi. — Supplied photo

Pharmacy groups say the residents' proactive steps to increase immunity during Covid-19 caused surge in sales

Pharmacy groups in the UAE have registered up to 200 per cent rise in sales of multivitamins and zinc supplements since March 2020, as residents take proactive steps to boost their immunity.

Bala N.S., chief executive officer, Aster Retail, Aster DM Healthcare, said the uptick in sales started with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have more than 200 pharmacies across the UAE. And since April 2020, there has been a 220 per cent increase in sales of supplements like vitamin C and zinc in calendar year 2020 versus 2019. The best sellers are multivitamins, immunity products, omega 3 such as fish oil supplements and children’s gummies. Vitamin D demand has also increased due to its perceived benefits in boosting immunity.”

Bala noted that most of the supplements are available over the counter.

“While most of the sales are over the counter and do not need a doctor’s prescription, we see an increasing trend in doctors prescribing vitamins and dietary supplements because of their benefits as supportive treatments in many chronic and acute ailments.”

Roshan Abdul Hameed, retail head of Burjeel Pharmacy, VPS Healthcare’s Retail Pharmacy Network, said: “At the beginning of the pandemic itself, more people began buying vitamin C and zinc as part of their efforts to boost immunity. When Covid-19 numbers peaked, the demand rose tremendously across our more than 35 pharmacies. At least there was a two-fold increase in the sale during these months. At present, the increase in sales of these products in our pharmacies is 40 to 50 per cent compared to pre-pandemic times.”

Arun Kumar A., manager, pharmacies, Ahalia Medical Group, pointed out a doubling of demand compared to 2019.

“The local health authorities have recommended taking vitamin and zinc supplements. The surge in demand started last year and is increasing every month. Initially, there were just 1 or 2 brands, but now there are lots available. Compared to 2019, we saw sales for vitamin supplements rise by 40 per cent in 2020, and now it is up by 50 per cent in the first five months of this year at our over 30 pharmacies.”

All pharmacy groups have created separate counters and display areas to showcase these supplements, which include lots of combinations like vitamin C with zinc, and both with vitamin D, vitamin E with selenium and omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E and vitamin B complex. Tablets are available in different formulations: Chewable, effervescent, swallowable and sachets.

In a bid to handle this excess demand, pharma companies have also ramped up production in the country. Dr Madgy Fahmy, CEO, LIFE Pharma, Dubai, said: “As per the UAE leadership’s strategy of promoting local production, we are able to effectively cope with the increase in the demand for multivitamins. In the early days of the pandemic, obtaining raw material was a challenge, but with the support of the authorities, we were able to get it. Since last July, we have been exporting these products to other GCC countries as part of efforts by the Ministry of Health and Prevention to support sister countries.”


Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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