e-Pharmacy in India likely to tap around 70 Million households by 2025 : Study

e-Pharmacy in India likely to tap around 70 million households by Financial Year 2025, reveals a  FICCI Whitepaper on ‘e-Pharmacies at COVID-19 Frontline : Fighting the Odds. Serving the Nation.’’  

According to the Study, there has been a shift in demand towards for at-home access to medicines during the COVID 19 pandemic. There was approximately 2.5 times growth (about 8.8 million) in the number of households using e-Pharmacy services in the COVID-19 lockdown period. There was a higher representation from the non-metro cities, compared to pre-COVID-19 households, it points out. 

Releasing the Whitepaper  at a Webinar, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India said, “The pharmacy services through e-commerce have been notified by the Home Ministry as essential services during COVID-19. The e-Pharmacy model can work effectively with the Government's Common Service Centres (CSC) aimed at improving access to essential healthcare facilities in rural India.’’ 

He said that technology played a crucial role during the pandemic and ensured the supply of essential items including medicines. “The overall essence of these circumstances is that the importance of technology and digital infrastructure to deliver affordable and quality medicines and health services to consumers across the country has clearly emerged,” the Minister added. 

According to him, e-Pharmacies are fulfilling the objectives of national development and the dream of Digital India, which is the vision of the Prime Minister. “We need to bring innovation in the digital health platform with the use of technology to provide best services to the citizens,” added  Choubey. 

Prashant Tandon, Chairperson, FICCI e-Pharmacy Working Group & Co-Founder, 1MG said, "The nascent e-Pharmacy sector in India was fortunate to be in a position to serve the citizens during the time of lockdown, ensuring access to medicines across the nation. The entrepreneurs in the space stepped up and were motivated by the positive support of the citizens. We look forward to working with the Government and having clear and enabling guidelines to move this sector forward and unleash a wave of innovation across the healthcare delivery ecosystem." 

Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI said, “The e-Pharmacy sector through an active partnership with existing pharmacies, is firmly committed to support the government and help the nation in fighting COVID-19. The industry is working 24×7 to ensure that people get essential medicines at home across the country, and the reach of existing pharmacies are expanded. Importantly, the regular medicines required for ongoing treatment are also being delivered. There is an urgent need to nurture this promising sector with the right set of policy frameworks and guidelines in order to provide the benefits that the sector fosters for the consumers.” 

“The Indian e-Pharmacy market has already been the investor’s choice pre-COVID, as it saw approximately $700 million investments flowing in during FY 20. The recent investor sentiment is also quite positive towards the sector, led by the organic adoption of e-Pharmacy during the COVID period,” the Study highlights. 

According to FICCI, India currently has 50+ e-Pharmacy platforms employing over 30,000 people. These platforms are expected to become the government’s key partner in enabling various social health initiatives and there is a need to notify the e-Pharmacy draft rules. A simple and clear regulatory path will help unleash the potential of technology for improving access to affordable and quality medicines.