Rise of ePharmacy in India

The onslaught on the pandemic saw the rise of various industries including E-Pharmacy, which offers users the convenience to purchase medicines with just a push of a button.

E-Pharmacy is an online medical shop where one can purchase pharmacy products from the comfort of your home. Just upload a prescription on the app and place an order for the pharmacy products you need.

This sector according to Frost & Sullivan is creating a paradigm shift in the Indian medicine market. It’s likely to reach over $3.6 billion by 2022 & presently contributes close to 2–3%. By the end of the year, it will capture 10% of the total market. 

ePharmacy is changing the landscape:

With discounts on medicines and giving users the convenience to purchase medicines and get the delivery right at your doorstep. Noting the rise of ePharmacy, investments have been on an influx. Various acquisitions are taking place, including Karexpert, C-Square and Netmeds. 

Reliance struck a deal with Netmeds’ parent firm Vitalic for about $83.2 million for 60% stake in the pharma marketplace. This deal grants Reliance a 100% ownership of Vitalic’s subsidiaries which are valued at about $134 million. RIL has said by April 2024 it wants to expand its ownership to 80% in Vitalic.

Reliance previously invested ₹10 crores in health-tech app Karexpert and integrated the services with Jio Health Hub. C-Square sold 82% stake to RIL, the company is entering a new rising vertical and is likely to dominate it.

ePharmacy is seeing exponential growth with many people opting for online purchase of medicine and consultation, this is resulting to be beneficial for the ePharm companies.

Netmeds delivers medicines, personal and baby care items, along with booking doctors and diagnostics on its website and app. This company had been looking for a buyer, and the pandemic provided that, through the deal with Reliance.

“Netmeds enhances Reliance Retail’s ability to provide good quality and affordable healthcare products and services. It also broadens its digital  commerce proposition to include most daily essential needs of consumers.”

Isha Ambani,  the director of Reliance Retail Ventures

The news of the RIL and Netmeds deal comes a week after Amazon announced the launch of its e-pharmacy service in Bengaluru, which it plans to expand in the rest of the country soon.

Amazon struck a deal with Netmeds, 1mg, PharmEasy and Medlife, as an attempt to expand in the ePharmacy market. 

Factors contributing to the growth of online pharmacies in India

  • ePharmacy companies are compliant with the IT Act & the Drugs and Cosmetics Act – legalities enable the industry to grow constantly. 
  • A significant amount of external funding is occurring in this market, with fundraising visions crossing the 150 million mark. 
  • This industry has also experienced government compliance with the draft of the pharmaceutical policy in 2015. The Niti Aayog’s three-year roadmap on the development of e-pharmacies too eased the growth.
  • ePharmacy offers pocket-friendly checkup packages to the customers, discounts, free consultations, etc, initiatives like this have helped the industries growth.

The future of ePharmacy

  • Consumer awareness: aligning activities to educate the common consumers with the policies, legality, etc will help the industry grow stably.
  • Quality assurance: purchase assurance & safety policies should happen by dealers before selling and buying the medicines online.

With the demand for increased convenience and instant solutions, ePharmacy has the potential of becoming a hit. Rural areas too show tremendous growth, which will allow the online medicine market to expand throughout India. 

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