Opening the OTC drug market: The effect of deregulation on retail pharmacy's performance

Wooyong Jo, Hyoryung Nam, Jeonghye Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Governments in many countries have deregulated the retail pharmacy market to offer easier and broader access to pharmacy services. Such deregulation has spurred the competition by allowing the entry of new drug distribution channels. Current research leverages the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law revision introduced in South Korea in November 2012. The policy change allowed 24-hour convenience stores to sell 13 first-aid drugs directly to patients. This research investigates the causal effect of new retailers’ entry on incumbent pharmacies’ financial performance in terms of pricing, revenue, and market exit. The findings, based on the panel data of 2,795 pharmacies in a 36-month period from 2011 to 2013, suggest deregulation posed a significant competitive threat to incumbent pharmacies, resulting in lower average prices for the deregulated drugs, significant drops in revenue and accelerated financial failures. A significant heterogeneity in the treatment effect is found across pharmacies. Pharmacies with less loyal customers and poorer financial performance suffered more after deregulation. Our findings suggest that although such deregulation is intended to enhance consumers’ access to health care, opening the OTC drug market to new retailers may hamper consumers’ access to pharmacy services because of the exit from the market of underperforming incumbents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-866
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Research in Marketing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Control function
  • Endogeneity
  • Market competition
  • Market deregulation
  • Market entry
  • Pharmaceutical marketing
  • Public policy and marketing interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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