Over the past year, when covid-19 find its way to the world, the whole healthcare industry got disrupt. None of the countries were prepared for this, nor had the resources to deal with it. So it was when India realized its true face of healthcare and how much improvement it needs. By 2023, the Indian health tech business is anticipated to be worth $5 billion. According to a survey by The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and management consulting firm Praxis, the sector is expected to develop at a CAGR of 39 percent over the next five years.
As threats of covid-19 and lockdown have overtaken people’s minds, the online shopping trend has seen a spike. From groceries to medicines, people were continuously ordering everything online. E-pharma is one such tool that emerged from the pandemic and is now growing successfully. In the recent decade, India has been progressively focusing on integrating digital health technology to improve access to healthcare. Even hospitals have turned to online booking for appointments and consultations to cut wait times.
Due to the global economic downturn caused by covid-19, poor investor confidence, low demand, and other factors, FDI into the pharmaceutical industry has been slow, limiting the sector’s expansion. Therefore, people are waiting for the “ideal time” to accomplish something.
How is e-pharma beneficial?
- Ensure safe medicines- According to a WHO estimate, around 10.5% of drugs sold in low and middle-income countries, including India, are substandard or fraudulent. E-Pharmacies, ensure that the drugs they sell are authentic by obtaining them straight from manufacturers and licensed resellers.
- Improving access- Due to restricted access to pharmacies, rural India’s medical requirements are unmet. E-pharmacies have an advantage in fulfilling the unmet medical needs of a large population, thanks to an ever-expanding logistical network spurred by e-commerce during the last decade. Currently, e-pharmacies serve over 20,000 pin codes, with that figure projected to grow in the future.
- Affordable to everyone- Traditional pharmaceutical supply chains are inefficient and feature multiple holes, resulting in waste and higher customer costs. With improved purchasing margins, efficient supply chains, and inventory management, e-pharmacies save money, resulting in lower prices for the end-user.
Trends during covid-19
As lockdown was imposed, the union and state governments quickly recognized the necessity of e-pharmacies and classified them as an essential service. The government also used the Aarogya Setu Mitr portal on the Aarogya Setu app to promote e-pharmacies and their associated benefits. This step proved to be beneficial for both households as well as e-pharmacies. As a result, in June this year, the sector as a whole saw a 2.5X increase in the number of families using their services, bringing the total to 8.8 million.
Furthermore, non-metros accounted for more than half of the new users onboard. Even after the lockdown limitations were lifted and offline stores were made available, sales on the platforms increased by 30-40% compared to pre-lockdown levels. E-pharmacies reported a 25-65% increase in sales and demand for COVID medication in the recent second wave.
To sum up, the sector is still in its early stages, with enormous potential to develop and grow. New offers and technologies will undoubtedly simplify our medication purchasing trip as it evolves. As the sector moves toward becoming a one-stop shop for one’s healthcare requirements, e-pharmacies are already on board, combining services such as doctor consultations and tests. The pharmaceutical industry is well-positioned to attract FDI and capitalize on the numerous opportunities that COVID 19 has provided. This will go a long way toward addressing the current health concerns and ensuring safer lives and a better standard of living. For the pharmaceutical industry, it’s a win-win situation.