Over the last decade, India has seen a massive e-commerce disruption, with individuals buying everything from groceries to clothing online. With pandemic-related lockdowns and distance forcing individuals online for their day-to-day requirements, the tendency has become increasingly pronounced in the last year. One such instrument that has come to the fore in our fight against the epidemic is e-Pharmacy.
Indian e-pharmacies, which first appeared in 2015, disrupted the sector and quickly gained traction. There are already over 50 e-pharmacies in India, with estimations putting the market value at $ 0.5 billion in 2019 – roughly 2-3 percent of total Indian pharmacy sales. By 2025, the market is predicted to increase at a compounded pace of 44%, reaching $ 4.5 billion.
What are the effects of pharmacies on pharma retail?
India, online pharmacy in India is substantially disorganized and fragmented, with about 8.5 lakh unorganized dealers accounting for more than 90% of sales. The space’s disorganized character leads to a slew of problems, including frequent stockouts, the sale of fake and poor pharmaceuticals, and limited access. While addressing these concerns, e-pharmacies seek to disrupt the market.
- Ensure safer drugs – According to WHO research, over 10% of medicines sold in poor and middle-income countries, including India, are substandard or fake. e-Pharmacies ensure that the drugs they sell are authentic by obtaining them straight from manufacturers and licensed resellers.
- Improving access – Rural India’s medical needs are unfulfilled due to a lack of access to pharmacies. Thanks to an ever-expanding logistical network stimulated by e-commerce over the last decade, e-pharmacies have an edge in meeting the unmet medical needs of a broad population. Currently, online pharmacies in India serve over 20,000 pin codes, with that figure projected to grow in the future.
- Making drugs more inexpensive -Traditional pharmaceutical supply chains are inefficient and contain multiple holes, resulting in waste and higher consumer costs. With improved purchasing margins, efficient supply chains, and inventory management, e-pharmacies save money, resulting in lower prices for the end-user.
- Ensure that drugs are available –
In comparison to an online pharmacy in India, which may cater to 50,000+ SKUs, an average offline pharmacy has 6,000-8,000 SKUs, giving e-pharmacies a major edge. E-pharmacies with a digital backend, analytics, and AI/ML can better manage their supply chain, ensuring high fill rates of 95% and avoiding stockouts, which are prevalent in traditional offline pharmacies.
Policies to help ePharmacy expand faster
E-pharmacies have shown a lot of promise in terms of enhancing pharma retail, and their continued expansion would only improve the digital healthcare ecosystem and help the government achieve its goals of providing efficient and cheap health coverage. Currently, the field is governed by laws enacted before the growth and adoption of e-commerce, such as the Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1940, the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules of 1945, and the Pharmacy Act of 1948.
The DCGI began the process of harmonizing current laws/guidelines governing e-pharmacies in 2015, recognizing the necessity to put in place sector-specific regulations and to send a favourable signal to all stakeholders. The draught guidelines were released in 2018 and made public to gather feedback after numerous rounds of consultations with industry stakeholders. With the potential of more COVID-19 waves looming, it’s critical to finalize and notify the policy as soon as possible. This will assist to alleviate any uncertainties and ease investment into the space, giving the online pharmacy in India healthcare system a much-needed boost.