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1 Jun 2021

E- pharmacy is a digital pharmacy that offers consultations, lab facilities, drug information and Medicines. With the lockdowns and curfews, travelling to doctors and chemists are becoming increasingly risky due to the chances of contracting the virus. E-pharmacies are becoming popular and reliable in urban areas and suburban areas of the country. They are playing an important role in the covid-19 period.

A study by the Federation Of Indian Chamber and Commerce Industry tells us that households' usage of E-pharmacies grew 2.5 times in covid-19 lockdown and is projected to grow by approximately 70 million households in the next four years. Ernst And Young's study estimates India's e-pharmacy sector to grow from about $2.7 billion by 2023 to $360 million in 2019. If we compare the role of pharmacies from the first wave to the second, there is a significant scale-up in the overall demand because cases are significantly higher in the second wave forcing people to switch to the digital pharmacies from the local chemists. This time the risk of contracting the virus is also higher. At the same time, the supply situation and delivery of essential goods is better and sorted out this time and is marginally better because authorities prepared sooner. But the supply gap still exists because of unprecedented times.

E-pharmacy can still become the backbone of the entire digital health industry considering sooner or later, it will become an important part of the bloc. The Declaration of these services as essential services by the government itself is a contributing factor that provided a much-needed boost. Another factor is pharmacies are not just delivering to the top cities and went in deeper in the areas including tier 2 markets which built a lot of awareness among the consumers. The industry is expanding by serving a much larger audience and covering not only the megacities. There has been a shift in the perception related to the industry. Previously people only opted for it because of the better value but now the primary reason is the ability of the industry to safely deliver the medicines at the doorstep which adds to the convenience.

Along with the delivery of medicines, E-pharmacies also provide services encompassing teleconsultations to diagnostics, leading to a larger platform of integrated health services. They are also partnering with hospitals to make administration capability available for corporates and are working with industrial corporate vaccine centres (CVC's)concept for the vaccination drive in the country.

It is also essential in the longer period and not just in the time of the pandemic. People accept the need for e-pharmacies and consider it a way of ordering medications not just for the price but also for the convenience it brings. People must also value the service that is offered and not just take it for granted for the industry to emerge as the backbone of the digital healthcare system in the long run.

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Dhriti Jain

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