SEOUL, May 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's pharmaceutical market grew more than expected in the first quarter of the year despite the new coronavirus outbreak, a report showed Friday.
Domestic sales of South Korean and foreign pharmaceutical firms came to 5.06 trillion won (US$4.1 billion) in the January-March period, up 5.3 percent from a year earlier, according to the report by health care big data tracker IQVIA Korea.
The figure beat analysts' downbeat estimates. The market had earlier been forecast to slow down considerably in the three-month period due to the novel coronavirus, whose first case was confirmed here on Jan. 20.
Sales of prescription medicines expanded 5.5 percent on-year in the first quarter, with those of over-the-counter drugs climbing 3.2 percent.
"Shrugging off virus-triggered concerns, the domestic pharmaceutical market posted a higher first-quarter growth rate than previously forecast," the report said. "But it remains to be seen whether the market may maintain its growth momentum down the road, given the changing situation surrounding COVID-19."
The novel coronavirus has so far infected 11,142 South Koreans, with the nation's death toll standing at 264.
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