During 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly changed Oriola’s operating environment, as the restrictions set by authorities extensively impacted the functions of public healthcare and consumer behaviour. The second wave of the pandemic, which started to accelerate towards the end of the 2020, intensified again these impacts especially in Sweden. The pandemic has weakened the operating conditions of healthcare and the pharmaceutical volumes have declined. In addition, the demand for health and wellbeing products has declined due to the citizens’ decreased mobility, and the share of online sales of the market has increased significantly. The continuation of the pandemic increases uncertainty in both the Finnish and the Swedish markets.

The pandemic has increased society's preparedness for securing availability of pharmaceuticals and other health-care products. The demand for many pandemic related products that promote health safety, such as face masks and services, has increased. The importance of high-quality pharmaceutical availability compliant with regulations, and particularly expertise in cold chain management, has been highlighted during the pandemic.

Ageing population and growth in speciality pharmaceuticals are driving the long-term growth of the pharmaceutical market in both of Oriola’s operating countries. In 2020 the pharmaceutical volumes declined due to the pandemic. In January–December 2020, the pharmaceutical wholesale market value grew by 5.1% (7.6%) in Sweden (source:IQVIA) and 2.1% (5.2%) in Finland in local currencies (source: LTK), mainly due to the significant increase in pharmaceutical sales in the first quarter. Parallel imports’ share of the Swedish pharmaceutical market was 9.8% (9.2%) (source: Apoteksförening).

Health and wellbeing trends, as well as the growth in e-commerce are growing the pharmacy business in Sweden. The pharmacy market is experiencing a digital transformation driven by fast growing e-commerce, which accelerated in 2020 due to the pandemic. Online sales accounts already for 18% (12%) of the total pharmacy market in Sweden by the end of December 2020. The pharmacy market in Sweden grew by 4.6% (4.0%) in Swedish krona driven by strong increase in online market (source: Apoteksförening). At the end of December, there were 1,433 (1,426) pharmacies in Sweden.

The pharmacy network in Finland has remained unchanged and the share of online sales is small. There are 819 pharmacy outlets in Finland and 132 service points of pharmacies. Pharmacies are owned by approximately 600 proprietary pharmacists and the two Universities of Helsinki and Kuopio.