An Overview Of The Online Pharmacy Industry In India

PV Vyshnavi PV Vyshnavi
Apr 13, 2021 11 min read
An Overview Of The Online Pharmacy Industry In India

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With the lockdowns restrictions brought over by the Covid Pandemic, most economic activities were paused, millions lost their job and many industries faced difficulties. But there were also some industries like Online gaming, Online grocery, Fintech, Telemedicine, Ed tech, online media that were boosted due to the pandemic. Another such industry that increased two fold is the e-pharmacy or online pharmacy industry.

The e-pharmacy sector in India has grown because of the increased accessibility during a pandemic and many upcoming players like NetMeds, 1MG, EasyMedico and MedLife, Apollo Pharmacy. In 2019, the global e-pharmacy market is estimated to be more than $69.7 billion and is expected to grow 17% to more than $244 billion in 2027.

Which is why 2021 is the year for the industry, as the e-pharmacy market in India is estimated to be over $512 million in 2018 and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 63% to reach $3,657 million by 2022. The sector is also attracting many investors as over 70% users are willing to use e-pharmacy post the pandemic, according to RedSeer survey.

In 2020, Covid 19 has pushed many consumers towards buying their medicines online. A report also shows that over 60 to 70% of the medicines that are ordered through e-pharma platforms are from chronic patients as it more affordable and accessible for them. The growth of e-pharmacy in India is evident due to the positive experience coupled with stronger adoption among low-income households.

The E-pharmacy Industry in India
Reasons behind the growth of the E-pharmacy Industry in India
Benefits of E-pharmacy in India
Challenges of the E-pharmacy Industry
Top 6 e-pharmacy apps/websites in India
Frequently Asked Questions


Netmeds - Leading India’s Online Pharmacy Segment
Company Profile is an initiative by StartupTalky to publish verified informationon different startups and organizations. The content in this post has been approved by the organization it is based on. The e-commerce industry has garnered immense popularity in India in a reallyshort span of time. …

The E-pharmacy Industry in India

Nowadays, many online industries are growing as people in the country are adapting to e-commerce rapidly with mobile first consumer behavior and improved digital payments infrastructure. In developed countries of North America and Europe, e-pharmacy is a flourishing market and is also structured, where the medicines are prescribed by doctors and tracked through barcoding to ensure systematic supply.

In India however, we have over eight lakh pharmacies, with pharmacies available every few kilometers. Β The e-pharmacies and healthcare companies have only recently grown in India because of Covid 19, improved Internet reach and smartphone penetration. The Indian e-pharmacy industry is some of well-known names in the market are Netmeds, EasyMedico and MedLife.

The growth of e-pharmacy in India

They are many startups that have also come up in the industry such as 1mg, Practo and Myra, even big retail stores like Apollo pharmacy have introduced their e-pharmacy segment.

In Indian pharmaceutical market is the third largest in terms of volume and 13th largest in terms of value. According to EY, the online pharmacy market in India is estimated to reach $2.7 billion by 2023 from $360 million which it is currently at.

In India, the retail pharma market is divided into 3 broad segments which are generic drugs, over the counter (OTC) drugs and patented products. Some of the country’s largest conglomerates and multinational e-commerce companies are looking to invest and get a foothold in this sector. For example Amazon has recently invested over $100 million in the largest Indian pharmacy chain Apollo Pharmacy.

In 2020, Reliance Retail invested Rs 620 crore to get a majority stake in Netmeds which is a chennai based startup. Tata group also acquired a a major stake in 1mg, while LGT Group and CDPQ the Canandian pension fund acquired Medlife in 2020. Even Pharmeasy is backed by the Singapore Temasek Holdings along with TPG a private equity firm from US.


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Reasons behind the growth of the E-pharmacy Industry in India

Internet reach and smartphone penetration

In 2021, India has a wider internet reach because of the affordable prices of the smartphones and deployment of 4G provided by telecom providers like Reliance Jio. According to a report the number of internet users in India is said to reach 600 million by 2025. The government has also launched Digital India Program which is helping in improving broadband connectivity across the country.

Government initiatives

The Digital India Program was started by the government to digitally connect every corner of India including the rural areas and remote villages with high speed internet. The aim of this campaign was to empower citizens to gain knowledge and use the government services easily and to make people interact with the government.

Along with that, the Jan Aushadhi Program is introduced in order to ensure that the general population has access to quality and affordable medicines.

Top pharma companies in India

The increased preference towards online shopping

In the times of global pandemic, online shopping has gained a lot of popularity. This is because it is more convenient to get products delivered at home, while abiding the lockdown restrictions. Online shopping for essentials and medicines is growing at a fast pace.

Growing awareness about fake drugs

E-pharmacy has more stringent tracking mechanism when it comes to eliminating middlemen and the risk of counterfeit and sub-standard drugs.

The change in the disease patterns in India

In the last 25 years, the focus has shifted from communicable to non-communicable diseases. The disease pattern has shifted towards chronic diseases which has also lead to the increase in the demand for daily medicines. E-pharmacies provide medicines to the chronic disease patients at a lower cost than compared to retail pharmacies.

Better healthcare financial services

There has been a steady growth in the Indian financial industry, there are now better options for health insurance policy, life insurance policy, family and retirement plans, cashless claims and ease of accessing them online. These services have increased the healthcare spending which, in turn, has benefitted the online pharmaceutical industry.

The increase in domestic demand

There is an increase in the domestic demand because of growth of in capita income, changes in lifestyle due to urbanization and rise in literacy levels. Which is why the demand for advanced medical treatment is expected to increase along with the demand for pharmaceutical products.


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Benefits of E-pharmacy in India

Convenience for consumers

E-pharmacy is more convenient than compared to retail pharmacy stores especially in the time of a global pandemic as the people can order their medicines from the comfort of their homes through any gadget that supports internet. This is also helpful for the elderly and patients that may not be in a condition to go find a pharmacy store.

Increased accessibility

Some medicines are hard to find in retail pharmacy stores, which is why e-pharmacy makes it more accessible to find those medicines. Retail Pharmacy only have limited stock and are expensive making it difficult for the people from the rural areas to buy medicines. E-pharmacies make it more accessible for the rural population to buy medicines.

Benefits of E-pharmacy
Benefits of E-pharmacy

Lower cost

The biggest advantage of e-pharmacy is that it provides medicines at a lower cost because it has small working capital, less overhead costs, increasing margins.

E-pharmacy provides improved information

E-pharmacies usually provide value added information to consumers such as the side effects, medicine reminders, information on cheaper substitutes. It also links it to medical resources like universities, government agencies and other health association.

Authentic medicines

All medicine purchases through e-pharmacy platforms are stored digitally, making it easy to track the supply chain. This reduces the risk of fake medicines, drug abuse, and even self-medication.


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Challenges of the E-pharmacy Industry

The e-pharmacy market in the country is unregulated, this is because of the absence of a clear regulatory framework from India's policymakers. The industry must be regulated because it involves the health of people.

The investors who invest in the e-pharmacy companies are also concerned about the lack of regulations in the sector. This is why a set of regulations for e-pharmacy must be implemented at the earliest.

Lack of technical Infrastructure

The key factor behind the success of any industry is a strong technical infrastructure. Even though smartphone and internet penetration rates are increasing, the rural population still don’t know about e-pharmacy and how to use it.

No awareness in the rural areas

There is huge gap between the rural population and online services like e-pharmacy. This is because people in the rural areas and remote villages lack internet connectivity and still don’t have gadgets that can access internet leading to poor connectivity.

E-pharmacies is unfavorable in the times of emergency

The one disadvantage of e-pharmacy is that when medicines are needed in emergency retail pharmacies, as e-pharmacies take more time from ordering to the delivery of the medicines. Hence why e-pharmacies are more suited for pre-planned purchases only.


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Top 6 e-pharmacy apps/websites in India

Netmeds

Netmeds is currently one of the biggest players in the e-pharmacy industry. It provides a huge variety of medicines, healthcare products and drugs. It is one of the most popular Indian website to buy medicines online.

The company was founded in 2015 and now has a pan India presence, offering prescription, over the counter drugs and wellness products. The customers can set up their subscription for the medicines to be delivered every month and buy healthcare products such as skincare, family care, and baby care among others.

Practo

Practo is one of the most reliable online medical stores. It also has a huge catalog of medicines and healthcare products. The app offers its services to more than 100 cities and also connects millions of patients with thousands of healthcare providers around the world.

The company was founded in 2009 and has over 1,00,000 listed doctors from 310 towns and cities. The app also offers its customers to have an automated prescription refill option, allows them to check their medicine order and reorder what they want.

Top e-pharmacy websites in India
Top e-pharmacy websites in India

1mg

1mg is the country’s leading digital consumer healthcare platform. This app offers its delivery services to more than 1000 cities across the country. Its customers can order medicines and health products through the website and get it delivered at home from licensed pharmacies.

It also provides accurate and trustworthy information on medicines. The best part about the app is that the customers can enter the names of the medicines needed and get cheaper alternatives with the same compound. The app also offers health tips according to the medicines you order.

PharmEasy

PharmEasy is a well-known health tech startup that offers services such as online doctor consultation, medicine deliveries and diagnostic test sample collection. PharmaEasy offers more than 1 lakh products and even delivers it within 24 to 48 hours across 1.2k plus cities all across India. The app allows schedules reminders monthly and even cash on delivery services.

Apollo Pharmacy

Apollo Pharmacy offers more than 5000 products in various categories online and is also accredited an international quality certification. Apollo pharmacy over 3500 plus offline pharmacy outlets across the country.

The advantage of ordering medicines from Apollo is that the customers can order it 24/7 and get the medicines delivered on time and at their doorstep.

Medlife

Medlife is another popular online pharmacy in India that was founded in 2014. Medlife is easier for ordering medicines as the customers can just upload their prescription, confirm it on call and get the medicines delivered at their doorstep. If the customer does not have a prescription, they can also consult a Medlife doctor.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top 6 e-pharmacy companies in India?

Netmeds, Medlife, Apollo Pharmacy, PharmEasy, and Practo are the top 6 e-pharmacy companies in India.

What are the challenges faced by the E-pharmacy Industry in India?

E-pharmacies is unfavorable in the times of emergency, No awareness in the rural areas, Lack of technical Infrastructure and Legal challenges are some of the challenges faced by the E-pharmacy Industry in India.

What are the benefits of E-pharmacy in India?

Convenience for consumers, Increased accessibility, Lower cost, Improved information e-pharmacy and Authentic medicines are the benefits of E-pharmacy in India.

What are the reasons behind the growth of the E-pharmacy Industry in India?

Internet reach and smartphone penetration, Government initiatives, The increased preference towards online shopping, Growing awareness about fake drugs, The change in the disease patterns in India, Better healthcare financial services and are the reasons behind the growth of the E-pharmacy Industry in India.

How big is the e-pharmacy industry in India?

In 2021, the e-pharmacy market in India is estimated to be over $512 million in 2018 and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 63% to reach $3,657 million by 2022.

Conclusion

With the current situation of the global pandemic and the changing seasons, online pharmacies are the best option to buy your medicines. As the people will not have break the lockdown restrictions and go out to buy medicines from the local medical store.

Online pharmacies are more convenient as the medicines are delivered safely and at the comfort of your home. E-pharmacy is cheaper than compared to the retail pharmacies and it’s also offers discounts and cashback. The industry is said to increase two-fold in coming years and become one of the biggest industries.

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