New Delhi: To build immunity against Covid-19, Indians purchased over 185 crore pills of Vitamin C supplements last year, a growth of over 100 per cent when compared to 2019.
According to data by research firm, AIOCD-AWACS, chemists across the country sold around 171 crore pills of Vitamin C and 13 crore pills of Vitamin C combined with other multivitamins in 2020.
AlI India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) is an apex lobby of over 8.5 lakh chemists across India. AIOCD-AWACS is the research wing of the lobby.
The growth in sales (by units) of the Vitamin C supplement in 2020 was 110 per cent. In 2019, it was only 4.7 per cent. Abbott healthcare’s Limcee and Koye Pharma’s Celin were the top-selling brands.
Not just Vitamin C, sales of popular zinc supplement, Zincovit, spiked by 93 per cent with a total of 54 crore tablets sold in 2020 as against 28 crore in 2019.
The overall multivitamin and minerals category, in terms of unit of sales, grew by 20 per cent — to 300 crore pills in 2020, the year the coronavirus pandemic began, from 248 crore pills sold in 2019.
This adds up to over 500 crore pills of Vitamin C, Zinc, and multivitamins bought by consumers last year.
In October last year, according to the AIOCD data, zinc supplement Zincovit had, for the first time, taken the top spot in the domestic pharma retail market. It became the highest selling brand, becoming the first multivitamin brand to overtake sales of the top-selling category of drugs for diabetes.
Becosules, Vitamin D3, Multivitamins register jump
Another popular multivitamin brand by US pharma giant Pfizer, Becosules Z, registered almost a 50 per cent growth in its sales. In 2019, 27 crore tablets were sold which zoomed to a little over 40 crore pills in 2020. Its variant, Becosules Plus, which saw its sales fall around (-)14.14 per cent in 2019, witnessed a 30 per cent jump in 2020.
Vitamin D3 tablets also saw an increase in sales. The top brands were Alkem laboratories, Uprise and Cadila’s Calcirol.
“The categories have seen a jump due to the outbreak of Covid. The concept of stronger immunity has gained importance last year, and for the first time, the sales of health supplements such as zinc, Vit C and D3 has posted record sales,” said Rajiv Singhal, general secretary, AIOCD.
Why sales zoomed
Sales of multivitamins and immunity boosters rose sharply during the pandemic as people rushed to buy these pills in a protect against the fast spreading Covid-19.
While zinc deficiency has been linked to higher severity of Covid infection, consumption of Vitamin C has been associated with higher immunity and reduction in oxidative stress that can be caused by Covid.
The role of vitamin D3, also known as calcifediol, has been linked to reduced risk of severe infection, and even death, in Covid-19 patients. All these associations are, however, not yet fully established.
“Due to the pandemic, the focus of the population has shifted to holistic health and in the search of immunity, the prescription of such drugs has been increased multiple folds. Moreover, the role of vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin D is proposed and recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in various Covid treatment guidelines for all kinds of Covid positive cases,” said Dr Rashid Gouri, a senior resident at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi who has been handling Covid cases.
“In a country like India where issues related to nutritional deficiency were always present widely, the surge in sale of all these supplements is understandable. However, the trend will have a positive impact over the health of Indian population in the long term,” Dr Gouri added.