COVID-19 and the Resilience of Pharmaceutical Demand

The Nephron team takes great pride in buckling down and producing value-added research to our clients during these uncertain times.  This week was no exception where, in addition to another week of the Nephron Research COVID-19 Daily Tracker (30 pages every day of constantly-evolving data and charts), Eric Percher and team published a note titled: “Early Script Data Suggests COVID-19 Will Test Resilience of Pharmaceutical Demand”.

“On Tuesday, we heard a great deal of concern over the trajectory of pharmaceutical scripts following the unprecedented period of panic buying that occurred over the first three weeks of March, concerns that appeared to be exacerbated by Walgreen’s commentary suggesting the benefits of consumers stocking their medicine cabinets in early March would likely ‘flatten out’ over the balance of the quarter and year. While a new daily measure of retail scripts from IQVIA suggests a significant decline over the last 10-days, this should not be read as the ‘new-normal’ after 21-days of stockpiling. It will take several weeks to separate the relatively benign impact of destocking from the potentially more significant impact of fewer office visits and elective procedures on new starts and refills.”

To separate the knee-jerk reactions from valid trend, the team attempted to put the current situation into context and ultimately estimated the incremental impact of COVID-19 on retail pharmacy volumes (above/below our initial 2020 estimates) based on datapoints accumulated from pharma manufacturer and supply chain discussions conducted March 1st to April 1st, IQVIA monthly and daily script trends and data points provide by Walgreen’s management on our April 2nd earnings follow up call.

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