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E-pharmacy in India Is Winning the Battle Over Traditional Medicines

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The e-pharmacy sector has been evaluated to reach over $3.6 billion by 2022. As of now, the online pharmacies contribute close to 2–3% of the market revenue and are expected to capture 10% of the total market by the end of this year. 

With e-commerce websites scrambling around to deliver whatever we need, whenever we need, life in 2020 could not get any easier. But if you think your online genies deal only in clothes, shoes, gadgets or groceries, check again! Gone are the days when you had to run to the pharmacy to get medicines during emergencies. Various online aggregators offer discounts on online medicines to make your purchase pocket-friendly. To make pharmacy shopping convenient, you can now get all the pharmaceutical products delivered right at your doorstep with just one tap on your phone.  

Frost & Sullivan, a firm that engages in growth strategy research reports that the online pharmacy sector in India is creating a paradigm shift in the way medicine market works. The e-pharmacy sector has been evaluated to reach over $3.6 billion by 2022.

Let’s take a nosedive into questions of growth, stability and the regulatory concerns in India that the e-pharmacy sector deals with.

What is e-pharmacy? 

E-Pharmacy is basically an online medical shop where you can purchase medicines and other pharmacy products from the comfort of your home. Just like you order your favourite food on Swiggy or place an order for grocery items on Grofers, you can order medicines online without any fuss. All you need to do is upload a prescription on the app and place an order for the pharmacy products you need. The good part is that online pharmacies have some of the most uncommon medicines as well so you don’t need to run around in search of those tabs. 

The pharmacy sector in India so far has been slightly relaxed as compared to the American/EU sector in the sense that you can usually buy some prescription drugs over the counter, without the prescription. Not just that, many of us have often relied on the borrowed knowledge of our regular pharmacist. Such trust is the backbone of any retail segment depending on something the online pharmacies have not been able to match up to, affecting their growth and market share. 

The easy availability of the common medicines over the counter in any brick and mortar medical store is directly responsible for the downfall of the online pharmacy market. However, it is the time-starved individuals like ourselves who consider e-pharmacies as nothing short of a blessing in today’s busy world. From tackling the dire need to get a pack of tampons to getting a dose on anti-allergic tablets, these online medical shops can sort your problems in a jiffy.

Factors contributing to the growth of online pharmacies in India

India has more than 200 e-pharmacies with more on the way, most popular among them being 1mg, Medline, Netmeds, Pharmeasy, and Myra. The tug of war with the Government regarding rules and regulations is common in any given sector, especially the ones breaking away from conventions. The Indian online medicine market is mostly compliant with the Information Technology Act as well as the Drugs and Cosmetics Act – keeping the legalities in place, the industry is growing constantly, one step at a time. 

The e-pharmacy sector in India has been able to attract a significant amount of external funding, thanks to India’s potential giant status. Netmeds.com raised 50 million in 2015, making it the biggest capital venture in the sector. Since then, the sector has grown considerably. The fundraising visions crossed even the 150 million mark as attempted by online pharmacy startup Medlife, from investors like Cipla and the Softbank Vision Fund. As of now, the online pharmacies contribute close to 2–3% of the market revenue and are expected to capture 10% of the total market by the end of this year. 

It’s worth noting that the online pharmacy market is gaining cooperation from the Government, in the form of drafting pharmaceutical policy around 2015. The mention in the Niti Aayog’s three-year roadmap about the development of e-pharmacies comes as a relief to the stakeholders. The fact that the government is taking steps to bridge all possible gaps and develop this area of e-commerce is a signal towards a brighter future for the area. 

Not just this, online pharmacies are also offering pocket-friendly full body checkup packages to the customers. Making the process of pathology lab tests at home simple and feasible, the companies send professional lab executives to collect the blood sample at home. They send the test reports online via email. What’s even better is that you can get a free consultation with the doctor to discuss your test reports in brief. Initiatives like this are a great help for corporate employees and working professionals. 

Understanding the way ahead

For the e-pharmacy market to grow, one of the key areas to focus upon is consumer awareness. Educating the common consumers to understand the importance of complying with the policies and following the law is the need of the hour. It’s only when the consumers will cooperate with the decision-makers to adhere to the set rule of uploading prescriptions and buying medicines from legal license holders is when the growth of online pharmacies will become steady. 

Both the dealers and consumers will have to keep quality assurance and safety policies in check before selling and buying medicines online, respectively! The goal for the online pharmacies is to tap every part of the country and make medicines readily available at any time of the day. The demand for increased convenience and instant solutions in the urban areas will slowly take over the rural parts of the country as well. A business model like that of online pharmacy will certainly be a hit in the coming times. 

Online medicine shops are changing the landscape of the pharmaceutical business in India and around the world. Primarily, it is the discounts on online medicines coupled with user convenience that are making it a huge success. In case you haven’t placed an order yet, try for yourselves and get the pharmacy products you need at your doorstep. You can check out the websites for current offers and also place the order on the mobile app. To make it even easier, online pharmacists have integrated the best online payment options to help with a smooth ordering experience. Cool, isn’t it?


Image credit: Freepik

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg. He interviews people within psychology, mental health, and well-being on his YouTube channel, The DRH Show.


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