A rapidly developing E-commerce industry in India has not only successfully tapped into the lifestyle and pattern of needs of their targeted buyers but have also managed to connect various other industries and retail chains with itself. The apparel and accessories, cosmetic, electronic and food chains are not being followed by the pharmaceutical industry too. E-commerce markets are no longer limited to lifestyle products but have begun including FMCG (Fast moving consumer goods) products and essentials like medicines too.
What are the advantages of E-pharmaceuticals?
The online platform has significantly reduced the time required to market a new product. Especially in the case of drugs and medicines, where these Pharmaceuticals would have to rely on retail stores, doctors and salesmen for their promotion, the advent of an E-commerce platform has completely changed the game. Each medicine or drug is now available with all details, users can not only research their preferred medications, but also purchase them right away from the comfort of their keyboard. This author research and found out how to purchase peptides online within a matter of minutes. A new drug will have an established platform for marketing and promotions. This process makes the medicines very visible to the buyer. A buyer who is aware of the basic composition of a prescribed drug, will now be able to compare the rates of the same medicine being marketed by different pharmaceutical industries. E-pharmaceutical industries also make it possible for people to have access to medicines are all times of the day. Where in contraposition, a retail medical store would have been shut after a particular time. E-pharmas also provide extensive reductions in price and frequent discounts.
How big are these E-Pharma industries?
According to the IBEF (Indian Brand Equity Foundation), the Indian Pharmaceutical market has expanded by 17.46% in the last decade (2005-2016). In monetary value, it has grown to become an industry worth US$ 36.7 billion, where the online sector is alone worth around US$ 18 billion. Currently India has about 50 E-Pharma startups.
Are there disadvantages?
While e-pharmas may seem to have tremendous advantages, there are some loopholes and drawbacks. For instance, there isn’t a very well-articulated legal framework for electronic pharmaceuticals. Consequentially, this also means that there is a lot of illegal activity that ranges from the unregistered E-pharmas to selling unauthorized and banned drugs. This also includes networks through which illegal drugs are shipped cross-border without any valid prescription. Adjoining to this, the site being the seller; there appears to be no way of assessing if and whether the pharmacist happens to be a certified one or not.
The only existing law for the pharmaceutical industry happens to be Drugs and Cosmetics Act that was introduced in 1940. Ostensibly this law doesn’t include the electronic or internet section to it as it was framed much before the advent of internet. The only basic E-commerce regulating law that exists is the IT Act or the Information Technology Act of 2000 which falls under the Cyber Law section of India. The IPA or the Indian Pharmacy association, which is a panel board of the main players in the pharmaceutical industry, have managed to put forth the problems and loopholes existing in the system. While there might be a burgeoning number of these E-pharmas, it doesn’t mean that the process is any easier. These industries continue to face legal harassment because of a stringent set of rules that are either outdated or do not have a clear framework to abide by.