Amid the lockdown and post-Covid scenario, e-pharmacy has been among the few sectors that saw increased adoption apart from e-commerce, online grocery, and online education.
Over 50 e-pharmacy startups in India, which were serving 3.5 million households in India before Covid-19 struck, saw around 2.5X growth to about 8.8 million households during the lockdown period, according to a whitepaper launched by FICCI on Thursday. Amid lockdown, 50 per cent new households using e-pharmacy service was onboarded from non-metro cities even as 19 out of 29 state government had identified online delivery of medicines as an essential service post the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in March this year.
Online buying of medicines has been “notified by the Home Ministry as essential services during COVID-19,” said Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India addressing the webinar to release the whitepaper titled e-Pharmacies at Covid-19 Frontline. He added that the e-pharmacy model can work effectively with the government’s Common Service Centres (CSC) for enhancing access to essential healthcare facilities by people in rural areas. The whitepaper estimated around 1.4X growth of e-pharmacy in India from its pre-Covid level and serving around 70 million households by FY25.
Amid the lockdown and post-Covid scenario, e-pharmacy has been among the few sectors that saw increased adoption apart from e-commerce, online grocery, and online education. According to a July 2020 survey by RedSeer, 75 per cent (of 500 respondents) e-pharmacy users reported that their online medicine spend either increased or remained during the pandemic vis-à-vis the pre-Covid period. Also over 70 per cent users (of 300 respondents) are willing to stick to the model during post-Covid scenario. Moreover, for 55 per cent of 250 respondents, face-to-face doctor consultations decreased during the Covid pandemic.
The value of India’s e-pharmacies in 2019 was around $20 billion out of which the market share for addressable medicines was around 47 per cent, as per the statistics portal Statista. This is likely to grow to more than 60 per cent by 2023 amid the rise of chronic disease treatments as well as the ease of home delivery of medicines that are helping the market to expand. The market is currently led by players including 1mg, Netmeds, PharmEasy, Medlife, MediBuddy, and more while investors such as Sequoia, Bill and Melinda Foundation, Temasek Foundation, IFC, Intel Capital and more had put $700 million investment in FY20.