Evolution And Rise of ePharmacy In India
The evolution of ePharmacy has transformed the way we access healthcare. With increased convenience, authenticity and accessibility, it has become the new normal for many people seeking prescription medication and medical advice online.
The rise of technology has revolutionised the way we live and work. In the healthcare sector, one of the most significant changes has been the emergence of ePharmacy, a digital platform for buying medicines online. The ePharmacy industry is growing at an unprecedented rate, and it is predicted to become the future of the pharmaceutical industry.
According to a report by Grand View Research, the global ePharmacy market size was valued at $57.8 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.3 per cent from 2020 to 2027.
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What is an ePharmacy?
ePharmacy, also known as an online pharmacy, internet pharmacy, or virtual pharmacy, is a digital platform that allows consumers to purchase prescription and non-prescription drugs and other healthcare products online. It operates similarly to traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies, but with the added convenience of being accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.
The concept of ePharmacy emerged in the late 1990s, but it wasn't until the early 2000s that it began to gain widespread popularity. Today, ePharmacy has become a booming industry, with a projected global market size of $177 billion by 2026.
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How does an ePharmacy work?
ePharmacy is an online platform where customers can purchase medicines and other healthcare products. These purchases are made with a few simple steps, listed below:
- Browsing products: Consumers can search for specific medicines or browse through the online catalogue to find what they need.
- Uploading prescription: If the medicine requires a prescription, the consumer can upload a prescription online, and the pharmacy's licensed pharmacist will review it.
- Payment and delivery: Once the order is confirmed, the consumer can pay online and choose a delivery option, either to their doorstep, at work or to a nearby pick-up location.
- Follow-up: ePharmacies may also offer follow-up services, such as reminding consumers to refill their prescriptions or consulting with a licensed pharmacist online. Some also facilitate booking health checks and other diagnostic tests.
Current Scenario of ePharmacy in India
With the rise of ePharmacies, people can now easily buy medicines online, without having to physically visit a pharmacy. This convenience has made ePharmacy a popular option among people, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when going out was restricted.
However, the growth of ePharmacy in India has been accompanied by various challenges, such as regulatory issues and concerns around patient safety. Here's an overview of the current situation of ePharmacies in India:
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1. Regulatory Framework
The Indian government has been working on regulations for the ePharmacy industry to ensure the safety and quality of medicines sold online. In September 2020, the government issued draft rules for ePharmacies, which require online pharmacies to obtain a license from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) and comply with certain norms such as maintaining records of prescriptions and ensuring the authenticity of drugs sold online. The regulations are expected to bring more clarity and credibility to the ePharmacy industry. In September 2018, the central government also issued guidelines for the online sale of medicines. As per the guidelines, ePpharmacies must be registered under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the Pharmacy Act, 1948. Because of these strict laws, no fake medicines can surface online on any of the ePharmacy platforms.
2. Patient Safety
Patient safety is a critical concern when it comes to ePharmacy. There are concerns about the authenticity of medicines sold online, as well as the risk of counterfeit products. To address this, the central government has mandated that ePharmacies must only sell medicines that are approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). They are also required to maintain records of all medicines sold and ensure that they are stored and transported in compliance with applicable laws.
In addition, ePharmacies must have a registered pharmacist available to answer any queries from customers. They must also have a process in place to verify the authenticity of the prescription and only sell medicines on a valid prescription from a registered medical practitioner.
The ePharmacy industry in India is poised for significant growth in the coming years. With the convenience it offers and the increasing adoption of digital technologies, ePharmacy is likely to become a preferred option for purchasing medicines. However, the industry will need to address regulatory and safety concerns to ensure that it operates in a responsible and sustainable manner. As the regulatory framework evolves, it is likely that the ePharmacy market will become more structured and organised, creating new opportunities for players in the market.
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Why ePharmacy is the future?
A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in 2020 found that ePharmacy users reported greater convenience, lower costs, and improved medication adherence compared to traditional pharmacy users.
1. Convenience and accessibility
The primary benefit of ePharmacy is convenience and accessibility. With ePharmacy, people can purchase medications and healthcare products from the comfort of their homes, eliminating the need to visit a physical pharmacy or doctor's office. This is particularly beneficial for people who have mobility issues, live in remote areas, or have busy schedules. It also allows patients to have access to a wide range of medicines and healthcare products, regardless of their location.
2. Improved medication adherence
ePharmacy platforms have features that enable patients to set reminders for medication schedules and refill requests. This helps patients stick to their medication schedules and avoid missing doses, which can have a significant impact on their health outcomes. Studies have shown that medication adherence is a significant challenge for patients, particularly those with chronic conditions. ePharmacy platforms can help to improve medication adherence and overall health outcomes.
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3. Personalisation and patient-centric care
ePharmacy platforms collect data on patients' medical histories, medication profiles, and health goals. This information can be used to provide personalised healthcare advice and treatment plans that meet the individual needs of each patient. Additionally, ePharmacy platforms can provide patients with access to healthcare professionals who can answer their questions and provide advice on medication and treatment options.
4. Cost savings
ePharmacy platforms can help patients save money on their healthcare costs. By eliminating the overhead costs associated with a physical pharmacy, epharmacy platforms can offer lower prices on medications and healthcare products. Additionally, epharmacy platforms can help patients save money by providing access to generic medications, which are often cheaper than their brand-name counterparts.
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5. Improved patient outcomes
ePharmacy platforms can play a significant role in improving patient outcomes by providing patients with access to healthcare professionals and medical advice. Patients can use ePharmacy platforms to ask questions about their medications, receive advice on managing their health conditions, and access information on new treatments and healthcare products. By providing patients with these resources, ePharmacy platforms can help patients manage their health more effectively and improve their overall health outcomes.
The future of ePharmacy in India looks promising with the increasing adoption of e-commerce, rising healthcare awareness, and government regulations. The industry can play a significant role in providing convenient and accessible healthcare services to people, especially in rural and remote areas. The ePharmacy industry can also leverage technology to improve the efficiency of supply chain management and ensure quality control. However, it is important for the industry to address the challenges and concerns of consumers and work towards building trust and credibility.
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