Drug industry sees spurt in hiring on Covid-19 outbreak

By Vien Thong, Nguyen Quy   June 26, 2020 | 12:17 pm GMT+7
Drug industry sees spurt in hiring on Covid-19 outbreak
A pharmacist checks drugs at An Khang store in HCMC's District 9. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Drug stores and pharmaceutical companies have been scrambling to hire workers as business booms amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In recent months most major drugstores have been hiring. A recent report on hiring trends in the pharmaceutical and medical devices fields by recruitment firm Navigos said 51 percent of employers are looking to recruit pharmacists.

The average salary for a pharmacist responsible for consulting and selling drugs at stores like An Khang, Long Chau and Pharmacity is VND5-8 million ($214-$343) a month while drug companies pay VND10-15 million ($428-$643).

Mid-level managers, pharmacists and marketing personnel get salaries of up to VND30 million ($1,290).

During disease outbreaks, many customers tend to also buy common drugs such as analgesics, antipyretics and cough medicines, FPT Securities (FPTS) said.

Besides the pandemic, long-term development plans have also played a role in the recruitment spurt.

In February Mekong Capital-backed Pharmacity Pharmacy JSC, the largest drugstore chain in Vietnam, raised VND735 billion ($31.8 million) in a series C funding round and plans to open 350 new stores this year, raising its total to 700.

FPT Retail, Vietnam’s second largest electronics retailer, plans to open 50 more Long Chau drug stores this year to take the total number to 70.

According to market research firm Kantar Vietnam Worldpanel, drugstores’ revenues increased by 164-168 percent year-on-year in February.

The growth has been spurred by the growing economy, increasing health awareness among the public and positive changes in behaviors of using pharmaceutical products.

"This is a golden time for pharmaceutical and medical equipment producing businesses in Vietnam to flourish," Gaku Echizenya, general director of Navigos Group Vietnam, said. 

"However, a shortage of high quality human resources and ineffective talent retention strategies remain a major barrier for pharmaceutical companies," Echizenya said.

Up to 81 percent of prospective employers said it is difficult to find competent candidates, according to Navigos.

The value of the Vietnamese pharmaceutical market is likely to grow to $7.7 billion by 2021 and $16.1 billion by 2026 from around $4.7 billion in 2017, according to market research firm IBM Research.

Vietnam's pharmaceutical sales were estimated at $6.5 billion in 2019, according to securities firm Viet Dragon Securities.

The Ministry of Health estimates there were around 57,000 drugstores last year, most of them small businesses run by families.

According to IMS Health, Vietnam is among 17 countries in the so-called pharmerging markets, a group of countries that are expected to be the pillars of the global pharma industry. Its drug market is expected to grow at around 10 percent annually for the next five years.

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