ePharmacy is the new buzz word in the market with global giant Amazon and home-grown conglomerate Reliance Industries Limited making launches and acquisitions in less than a week.
In India, COVID-19 was the biggest driver for ePharmacy. Nineteen state governments declared ePharmacy as an essential service during the lockdown.
ePharmacy solutions are ideal for cash pay markets like India. Data from published sources like FICCI show that ePharmacy has made inroads into about 9 million households in the country, largely driven by the lockdown. Before COVID-19, about 3.5 million families were using ePharmacy services.
The ePharmacy space in India is currently in the consolidation phase. The M&A spree started in 2019 with Medlife acquiring Myra, before the recent developments, including, Reliance acquiring Netmeds, and Pharmeasy merging with Medlife. This is just the beginning with many more mergers, acquisitions, and investments likely to happen in the next few quarters. Amazon Pharmacy’s expansion strategy in India will be something to watch. It is important to note that Amazon made PillPack synonymous with online pharmacy in the US within two years. In the US, Amazon Pharmacy targets chronic disease patients and delivers medicines to their doorstep, which has also increased medication adherence in the country.
The ePharmacy market is likely to expand and integrate online consultation, online lab testing, and doctor consultations, including scheduling, claims management, etc. This will open up Pandora’s Box for data security and patient safety; however, with the proper regulatory framework, guidelines, regular inspections, and interventions, this market is going to boom.
By 2025, Frost & Sullivan expects ePharmacy to penetrate 70 million households in India and for the ePharmacy market to grow to 75+ companies.