IPSIndian Journal of Pharmacology
Home  IPS  Feedback Subscribe Top cited articles Login 
Users Online : 4129 
Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
Navigate Here
  Search
 
  
Resource Links
 »  Similar in PUBMED
 »  Search Pubmed for
 »  Search in Google Scholar for
 »Related articles
 »  Article in PDF (680 KB)
 »  Citation Manager
 »  Access Statistics
 »  Reader Comments
 »  Email Alert *
 »  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

 
In This Article
 »  Abstract
 » Introduction
 »  A Brief Comparis...
 »  Driving Factors ...
 »  Challenges of an...
 »  Information on L...
 »  Existing E-Pharm...
 »  Generic E-Commer...
 »  Legislation/Lega...
 »  Government Initi...
 »  Conclusion and t...
 »  References
 »  Article Figures
 »  Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    Viewed1132    
    Printed52    
    Emailed0    
    PDF Downloaded86    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal

 


 
 Table of Contents    
REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 54  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 282-291
 

The rise of E-pharmacy in India: Benefits, challenges, and the road ahead


1 BPharm of Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Pharmacology, Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Pharmacy Management, Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission05-Jun-2021
Date of Decision31-Jul-2021
Date of Acceptance10-Aug-2022
Date of Web Publication04-Oct-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Dharmagadda Sreedhar
Department of Pharmacy Management, Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka
India
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijp.ijp_445_21

Rights and Permissions

 » Abstract 


The recent worldwide pandemic has prompted several companies to turn to the online market. The pharmaceutical industry is one such significant and crucial in India. There has been an upsurge in online pharmacies throughout the Indian subcontinent over the last 3–5 years. This unique development of online or “E-pharmacy” field has been carefully examined and presented in this article. The distinction between online and offline pharmacies, the advantages and challenges faced by E-pharmacies, the driving forces that led to the growth of the E-pharmacy sector in India, and the various emerging Indian E-pharmacy companies are covered. A comprehensive review of the legal system under which the E-pharmacy industry operates is also briefed. The reader will also learn about the various initiatives implemented by the Government in support of the E-pharmacy sector in India.


Keywords: E-pharmacy, framework, India, initiatives, internet penetration, key players, North America


How to cite this article:
Dcruz AC, Mokashi VN, Pai SR, Sreedhar D. The rise of E-pharmacy in India: Benefits, challenges, and the road ahead. Indian J Pharmacol 2022;54:282-91

How to cite this URL:
Dcruz AC, Mokashi VN, Pai SR, Sreedhar D. The rise of E-pharmacy in India: Benefits, challenges, and the road ahead. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 3];54:282-91. Available from: https://www.ijp-online.com/text.asp?2022/54/4/282/357828





 » Introduction Top


A web-based pharmacy is an online system that provides a platform for customers to purchase medicinal drugs and E-services online, allowing the customer to receive medicines/services in the comfort of their homes within a short time.[1] In this article, we aim to provide valuable insight into the online pharmacy sector in India.

The Indian drug market was assessed to be at US$ 41 billion in 2021 and remained the third biggest market as far as the amount/volume and the thirteenth biggest in terms of value. It is predicted to advance to US$ 65 billion by 2024 while ascending in maturing populace and persistent infections, rising expendable livelihoods, and expanding mindfulness, among others.[2] This calculated figure, which is around 33% of that of the US and practically a large portion of that of Europe, gives India a cutting edge as a creating objective.[3] Drug stores are gradually picking up force inside the online business industry space with its amazingly developing infiltration rate. As of now, around 250 online drug stores have come up within the nation.[4]

E-pharmacy is a highly unexplored sector and rose to popularity because of several entrepreneurs who aimed at delivering quality healthcare to every citizen in India at affordable rates. The preference for E-pharmacy rose from 23% in 2013 to around 59% in 2018.[5]

Another intriguing investigation by Frost and Sullivan has proposed that the estimated growth of the E-drug store market in India is at a remarkable compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 63% and will reach US$ 36 billion by 2022 from what was observed in 2018 (US$ 512 million).[6] With urbanization on the rise, it is estimated that nearly half of the Indian population will turn to E-platforms for their medical needs. As per Netmeds, the E-drug store represents 1½%–2% of the entire pharmaceutical industry deal, and from the present trajectory, it can be assumed that the market growth can go up to 10% before the end of 2023.[7]

Several elements are driving the E-drug store market in India. Aside from pocket-friendly and reasonable items, these drug stores likewise are offering some benefit-added items and administrations such as arrangements for a specialist discussion (E-counsel) and E-symptomatic administrations, among others.[8] These administrations are helping these organizations to turn into a total medical care specialist cooperative, particularly in those regions where specific specialists are inaccessible or travel for discussions might be imperative for patients. Different E-medical services by the public authority like Ayushman Bharat provide financial aid by increasing the reach of insurance plans to remote places, feasible services, and doorstep conveyance within a short time, thereby expanding the prevalence of the web drug stores over disconnected retail drug stores among purchasers.[9] However, this industry has its shares of lows, and the biggest hindrance to this industry is the lack of a rigid legal framework. Without well-defined regulations for this sector, E-pharmacy is unable to win the battle over traditional medicine stores and continues to face several drawbacks, which will be discussed further.


 » A Brief Comparison of Online Pharmacy and Offline Pharmacy Top


In this section, we gave a brief comparison between the conventional and modern-day pharmacy [Table 1] before we look at some major areas of the E-pharmacy sector.
Table 1: Online versus offline pharmacy

Click here to view



 » Driving Factors of the E-pharmacy Facet Top


In recent times, the demand for E-pharmacy is spiraling exponentially, especially during this pandemic, wherein several E-pharma companies have emerged as lifelines, working unfalteringly to extend their services to the public. At present, India has about 50+ start-ups in the E-pharmacy space providing quality and affordable medicines to about 5,000,000 patients per month across the country.[20] Major key drivers for online purchase of medicines are shown in [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Driving factors of the E-pharmacy facet

Click here to view


Rapid internet penetration in India

The last 5 years has witnessed an increase in the CAGR by 15%–16%. Internet penetration in both rural and urban India has risen significantly, and with the availability of internet-enabled smartphones and high-speed broadband connectivity, the number of internet users is expected to grow exponentially.[21]

Digital India initiative

The government-initiated flagship program, Digital India, aims to provide internet services to each side of the nation, including far-off towns and villages, thereby encouraging the E-pharmacy concept among the citizens and further opening doors of growth for this sector.[22]

Increase in government support

The Government of India (GoI) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) have come up with several public health-oriented initiatives with the help of information and communication technologies to enable residents to profit from government organizations without any difficulty.[23] Recorded beneath are a couple of government initiatives for online medical care administrations:



Aside from this, the National Health Stack is taking a shot at essentially cutting down the expenses of well-being insurance, giving credit only and a consistently coordinated framework to help patients.[24] Adding to the healthcare initiatives, the increase in health insurance schemes protects the public from the high cost of medicines and keeps their claim ratio under check.[25] This is an added advantage to E-pharmacy as many online players have tied up with the government E-healthcare initiatives. In turn, the healthcare insurers are progressively elevating the clients to purchase drugs through E-pharmacy gateways.

Changing lifestyle and disease progression

In the last 25 years, the incidence of noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension has grown dramatically due to changing lifestyle habits generating a great demand for a lifelong supply of medication for the diseased population. However, most people are either old or lack awareness about the disease and do not seek medical help to avoid expensive treatment. E-pharmacy aims to provide affordable medicine and healthcare facilities to every citizen of the country without any physical movement, and hence, there is great scope for this sector.[26]

Booming Indian economy

India ranks sixth in terms of nominal gross domestic product and third in terms of purchasing power parity. It is the second quickest developing economy on the globe after China, and E-drug store is expected to drive future development, empowering India to become one of the best three financial forces in the world. At present, the Union Cabinet has approved the amendment in the foreign direct investment (FDI) strategy in the drug area, permitting up to 100% FDI under the automated course subsequently guaranteeing an expanded supply of medications over some time, consistent accessibility and supply of medications, and nondiscontinuance of fundamental prescriptions. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has also announced the introduction of the single window facility, which will further ease the business operations of the pharmacy players both offline and online.[27] Development in the Indian financial industry has increased medical spending, which is further expected to develop at 9%–12% CAGR between 2018 and 2022 to US$ 26–30 billion, which, thus, has profited the online drug industry.[28]

Expansion in domestic demand

With the increment in the education levels, increment in buyer right mindfulness, development in per capita pay, and changes in ways of life because of urbanization, the interest in the computerized drug store is expected to increase in the coming years.[29]

Pandemic outbreak

The SARS COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be one of the major key drives in promoting the importance of E-pharmacy. E-pharmacies have shown great resilience toward the pandemic by providing essential healthcare services to people all across the nation during these trying times. There is no doubt that E-pharmacies are here to stay, and in the coming months, the emergence of E-pharma sectors will be well established.[30]


 » Challenges of an Online Pharmacy Top


In India, the Drugs and Cosmetics (D and C) Act, 1940; D and C Rules, 1945; Pharmacy Act, 1948; and Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 govern and regulate importing, manufacturing, and distributing drugs to ensure delivering safe, effective, and quality medicines across the nation.[31] Currently, there is no concrete regulatory framework for E-pharmacy companies in India except for the Draft Rules that are pending approval, and so, these companies follow the offline legislation.[32] Several challenges have been addressed in the absence of a rigid framework, some of which are discussed in this section [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Challenges of an online pharmacy

Click here to view


The lack of proper rules and regulations has profoundly affected the overall market growth of the E-pharmacy sectors in India and has kept many large investors at bay. The current D and C Act requires a pharmacist to have a valid license and a registered premise to safely store and sell the drugs, and so, E-pharmacy companies can only operate if they have a physical premise in India.[33]

Rules concerning the interstate sale of drugs are not well established, and so, there is a high possibility that drugs valid in one particular state may be considered invalid in another state. A similar incidence has already been registered by the Mumbai Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and further such incidents are expected to rise as E-pharmacy companies comprise a large network of pharmacies integrated into a single platform, so rigorous monitoring of the sources from which these drugs are procured or delivered is going to be a major task for this sector.[34] Procurement of money before delivery of the medicine is another ambiguity in Indian law. Some laws state that money should be collected only after the delivery of the drug, and E-pharmacy companies can be held accountable for violations of the law as they offer various payment methods such as credit/debit payment and payment via mobile wallets that are not under the law.[34]

A comprehensive regulatory framework is needed to deal with Schedule H and X drugs. These drugs can only be sold within the presence of a pharmacist with a valid prescription in hand as these include antibiotics and habit-forming drugs. With E-pharmacy, there is a possibility that one prescription can be uploaded several times on the website portal, and this can lead to increased incidents of drug abuse.[35]

Patient identity is another challenge as it will be very difficult to trace the authenticity of the prescription when it is uploaded on the websites for online purchase of drugs, and there is no regulation as such that deals with the sale of drugs to minors.[35]

As of now, there is no framework for barcoding at the assembling level, and this can be an obstacle to the smooth supply of medicines. Government should step into this matter and mandate barcoding for the online mode of drug distribution to promote transparency and accuracy in data management systems.[36]

India needs to work on government regulations to encourage support for technological innovation since it lacks manufacturer-level drug production and supply. With the help of the Government, the E-pharmacy sectors can focus on improving automation and work on generating products quickly at lower operational costs.[37]

E-pharmacy companies aim to provide better healthcare facilities to the vast public across the nation. However, with poor cold chain logistics and no temperature tracking, E-pharmacy store areas cannot appropriately serve the populace in the rural regions with items requiring cold stockpiling.[36]

Resistance from the brick-and-mortar pharmacy stores has been increasing greatly. At the forefront of the attack on the big online outlets is the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists.[38] Moreover, the luring discounts and offers extended by the E-pharmacy sectors can have an impact on offline market growth. Different associations have led to emphasis on the D and C Act, which expresses that specific medicines can be sold distinctly with a prescription, and home conveyance of drugs by E-drug stores goes against this standard.[39] Given the release of the draft in August 2018, the center had announced the release of the final notification by December 2018 and later extended the deadline to July 31, 2019, but these guidelines never saw the light of the day.[40],[41] Some of the disadvantages of offline pharmacy and probable actions to be taken is given in [Table 2].
Table 2: Some disadvantages of the offline pharmacy

Click here to view



 » Information on Leading “E-Pharma” Companies in India Top


In 2015, the Indian Internet Pharmacy Association was set up by 11 initial start-up E-drug store organizations, viz., 1MG, Netmeds, BookMEDS, mChemist, Medlife, PharmEasy, Medi-Dart, MedStar, Zigy, SaveOnMedicals, and Savemymeds. In this part, we will glance at these significant central participants.[42]

1MG

1MG is one of the India's leading and trusted consumer healthcare platforms. It provides healthcare services at affordable prices along with cost-effective alternatives. Moreover, it provides an opportunity for the public to deepen their knowledge about their medication therapy through various E-consultation and E-diagnostic services. The company is working toward public welfare in light to provide consumers and caregivers with the most appropriate healthcare medications/services at the most convenient price.[43]

  • Headquarters: Gurgaon
  • Operation: Web portal and mobile app available across Android/IOS
  • Founders: Anurag Mundhada, Prashant Tandon, Vikas Chauhan, Gaurav Agarwal, Sameer Maheshwari.


PharmEasy

Launched in 2015, PharmEasy has been working toward providing trusted healthcare products and services to over 1000+ cities covering over 22,000+ pin codes.[44] They mediate between a consumer and a local pharmacy and provide diagnostic services for extensive medical needs. PharmEasy is working with the vision to provide quality medicines to every citizen of India with the highest savings in a short time.[44]

  • Headquarters: Mumbai
  • Founders: Dharmil Sheth, Mikhil Innani, Dhaval Shah.


CareOnGo

India's first mobile chain of co-branded pharmacy stores, CareOnGo, serves as a platform for local retail stores to manage and control their stock through technology-driven facilities in a systematic manner and under a single umbrella. Users can purchase medicines on their smartphones and enjoy added advantages of finding medicinal alternatives, discounted rates, and daily alerts/reminders, as well as maintaining confidentiality.[45]

  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Founders: Ritu Singh, Aditya Kandoi, Yogesh Agarwal.


Medlife

Medlife is one of the India's largest online platforms and provides a one-stop shop for all healthcare needs. It is driven by the motto of serving/providing every citizen of India with the best possible health facilities. It not only provides a vast range of products but also provides genuine products from reliable sources. It is a customer attraction platform because of its discounted rates and enticing cash-back offers. Its vast range of services includes accessing healthcare specialists through E-consultation, evaluating health through Medlife labs, and maintaining transparency and security of health records. Medlife is currently serving clients in about 25,000 pin codes across the Indian subcontinent. Medlife was felicitated with the “Hot Bangalore Brand” award, which comes under the Young Organizations category hosted by Paul Writer in connotation with Adobe and Oracle.[46]

  • Headquarters: Bengaluru
  • Founders: Tushar Kumar and Prashant Singh.


Myra Medicines

Myra Medicines is a Bengaluru-based start-up. The ideology of this start-up came from the problem faced by the locals of the area due to unreachability at the time of need. Myra is tied up with a network of 40 distributors across India. In 2017, it was accepting approximately 1000 orders per day and earned lump sum revenues. Myra provides a vast employment opportunity, with approximately 300 people working under the umbrella of the organization.[47] In 2019, Myra was acquired by Medlife in an all-stock transaction deal.[48]

  • Headquarters: Bengaluru
  • Founders: Faizan Aziz and Anirudh Coontoor.


Netmeds

Netmeds is an official online platform that provides services such as the delivery of over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Netmeds is currently providing services to around 5.7 million people across 670 cities and towns. It provides an easy-to-use platform to acquire products online. A group of well-qualified pharmacists inspect the prescription uploaded on the portal for authenticity and dispense the dosage requirement. On the Netmeds website, customers can acquire over 70,000 prescription drugs for chronic and short-term ailments. Nonprescription drugs such as nutrition supplements are also provided.[49]

  • Headquarters: Chennai
  • Founders: Pradeep Dadha and Bruce Schwack.



 » Existing E-Pharmacy Models Top


At present, there is no well-established E-pharmacy model. However, the following are examples of models that are being implemented by various E-pharmacy companies.

Stock-based model of E-pharmacy

According to the stock-based model, the merchandise and the enterprises are regulated by the E-commerce organization, and the items are supplied to the customers directly. In addition, a list of drugs dispensed across various areas/individuals is maintained. When orders are received through the portal, they are verified by registered E-pharmacists for authenticity. Requests, which include a prescription, are affirmed for a lawful E-remedy transferred to the client on the site. Medicines are not apportioned without a valid prescription. Registered pharmacists cover the prescriptions in a carefully designed package and convey them to the shoppers using dispatch administration.[50]

Commercial center-based model of E-pharmacy

In a commercial center-based model, the E-pharmacy organizations act as intermediaries between consumers and retailers. The E-pharmacy functions as a compiler and provides an E-link that interfaces with the clients and providers of drugs. The E-pharmacy site comprises authorized drugstores and records their items. Clients pick the medicines/drugs offered on the site/application. The E-prescription is transferred to the site/application. The request is then moved to the authorized drug store. The drug store affirms the prescription and thereafter validates the prescription. The requests are canceled without a legitimate prescription. The prescriptions are then moved to the clients through a transporter administration.


 » Generic E-Commerce Marketplace Top


These are digital establishments that supply a wide range of hardware, design, furniture, home goods, and beautifying agents. However, advertisements of services and offers of endorsed prescriptions or any medications, which fall under the D and C Act, are prohibited. Some famous digital companies are Flipkart and Amazon.[50]


 » Legislation/Legal Framework for E-Pharmacies Top


As of now, no exact rules are administering E-drug stores in India, and this is a significant inhibitor to the online drug store market in India. All online drug stores are working according to the D and C Act, 1940; D and C Rule, 1945; Pharmacy Act, 1948; and IT Act, 2000. The Union Health Ministry in August 2018 came out with draft rules on the offer of medicines by E-drug stores to control the online offer of medications and availability of genuine drugs from certifiable online sites.

While the E-commerce business comes under the territory of the IT Act, 2000, the laws governing the sale of drugs in India come within the scope of the D and C Act, 1940, the D and C Rules, 1945, the Pharmacist Act 1948, and the Indian Medical Act, 1956. However, the law mentioned in the said Acts neither authorizes nor blocks the online sale of medicines in India. The precolonial regulations of India fail to deal with the recent growth of the online pharmacy market within the country. No separate rules/regulations have been molded for the online pharmacy in India.[51]

At present, E-pharmacies in India follow the D and C Act 1940, D and C Rules 1945, Pharmacy Act 1948, and the Indian Medical Act, 1956. However, the electronic sale of physician-prescribed drugs from online drug store sites is expressed under the IT Act, 2000.

By October 2017, the GoI had issued the first draft of a bill about E-pharmacy. The draft rules were the need of the hour as the lawful battles and procedures restricting the extension of E-drug stores in the nation became very prominent. In addition, because the principles at that point said nothing regarding E-drug stores, an administrative structure to oversee this area has gotten important to check criminal and risky movement.[52]

Key highlights of the E-pharmacy draft guidelines

Administrative authority

  • E-pharmacies are, as of now, managed by state drug controllers. According to the parent organization, permitting approvals for E-pharmacies should be given by the DCGI
  • The DCGI will work as indicated by the D and C Rules, 1945, just as the IT Act, 2000 under which E-trade organizations are managed
  • Companies running E-pharmacies are urged to apply for one permit in any state that will permit them to sell/trade drugs across the nation
  • The E-portal would likewise need to go by the procedures of the D and C Act, 1940. Nonadherence could lead to prompt suspension and the end of the E-gateway.


Registration of E-pharmacy

  • To run an E-pharmacy, the applicant should register with the central licensing authority (CLA) by filling up Form 18AA alongside giving an amount of Indian Rupee (INR) 50,000 and producing the fundamental records through the Central Government website. A registered certificate is essential to sell, circulate, keep stock, show, or offer medicines to any individual through the E-portal
  • Registration remains valid for a long period from the date of issue
  • Three months before the termination of the license, the licensee has to apply again by filing Form 18AA alongside an expense of INR 50,000 and the important dossiers with the same.


    • If the application for renewal of the license is not made within a ½ year after expiry, the establishment is considered to be obsolete
    • The E-pharmacy licensee must always permit legal groups of the CLA to conduct standard investigations every 2 years
    • The licensee needs to submit a hard copy to the CLA for any adjustments in the constitution of the firm working under the enlistment that he/she may have made.


Verification

  • The registered pharmacist must authenticate the particulars of the patient, enrolled medical professional, and administer medications according to the prescription provided by the prescriber. The data of the meds apportioned alongside the patient details are to be saved on the E-pharmacy entry.


Medications that cannot be sold at the E-drug store entrance

Drugs mentioned under the opiate and psychotropic classes are not to be dealt with by the E-pharmacy enlistment holder as referenced in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

Confidentiality of information generated through the portal

It will be obligatory for the E-drug store to keep the entirety of its client information secret and secure but will be compelled to honor any data to the State or the Central Government, at whatever point fundamental, for general well-being reasons.

Helpline and complaint redressal

E-pharmacy will be needed to keep the entirety of its client data secret; however, it should oblige to deliver any data to the State or the Central Government, at whatever point required.

Data collection

An E-pharmacy portal is a setup, which contains all the information created and is limited to the country. The information produced through the E-pharmacy entry cannot be sent or put away, using all means, outside the nation.

Promotion and exposure

E-pharmacies are restricted to publicize on any media stage.


 » Government Initiatives for E-health Services in the Country Top


Digital India

The GoI has launched Digital India a flagship program with a dream to change India into a carefully digitized society and information economy by providing high-speed internet and digital literacy in rural areas. Under that, the E-hospital application aims to provide important healthcare administrations, for example, online enlistment, installment of charges and arrangement, online demonstrative reports, and improving the accessibility of blood banks on the web.

e-Kranti

e-Kranti is a subprogram of the Digital India program. e-Kranti aims at ensuring public benefits electronically to the citizens of India through consolidated and practicable arrangements by various methods while ensuring the utmost authenticity and reliability of such organizations at affordable costs.[53]

Jan aushadhi program

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana, launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, addresses the issues of expanding drug costs in our nation. Jan aushadhi program is focused on creating awareness through education and providing generic medicines at affordable prices without compromising the quality of medicines.[54]

Common services center

The common services centers (CSCs) aim at improving the digital infrastructure along with the digital empowerment of the citizens. At present, it has approximately 250,000 hubs across the country to deliver various services and products in the country, especially in remote areas.[55]

One such service is “Telemedicine”

Through telemedicine, CSCs give expert healthcare advice to patients in distant territories of the nation. The village-level entrepreneur (VLE) fills in as an arbiter between the well-being specialist organization and the patient. He/she books the appointments, collects the information from the patient, which includes samples or video recordings, and forwards it to the doctor. In return, the doctor provides the VLE with a printed prescription and other such diagnostic information related to the ailment.[56]

National E-Health Authority

The MoHFW, in 2015, proposed to set up the National E-health Authority as a regulatory and standard-setting organization for the emerging usage of electronic media in the field of healthcare. This E-health ecosystem in India is aimed at providing quality and cost-effective services by using the information in a transparent manner and communication technologies to reach a large base of customers.[57]

Integrated health information program

This program was developed with the view of managing healthcare-related records efficiently and with utmost transparency. These citizens can access electronic healthcare records on a single platform, i.e., the Integrated Health Information Platform. This sort of integration and interoperability of the electronic health records through extensive health information exchange promotes better continuity and quality of care, affordable treatment, transparency in data management, better determination of sicknesses, ideal data trade to help better well-being results, better choice of a supportive network, and at last encouraging improvement in the changes of therapy and care of general well-being at national level.[58]

SUGAM

In 2016, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) introduced SUGAM, an online licensing portal, wherein applications for various processes such as application submission, processing, and grant of permission for delivery of services can be carried out swiftly. Its advantages include application for permit under import and enlistment division to CDSCO, tracking the status of submitted applications, and replying to raised queries. The applicant can likewise transfer fundamental documents for an enrolment import permit and other related exercises.[59]

Comparison with other countries

Country-wide, North America represented chief portions of the worldwide E-drug store market because of the rise of programming innovation in the clinical sector. North America has the biggest E-drug store market worldwide. High users of app-based pharmacies, increasing presence of online retail pharmacies and increasing web dependent population are the significant factors that fill the worldwide E-drug store market. There are eminent central members and advances in the drug and other life sciences enterprises that demand a greater amount of the E-drug store market. The United States (US) is the biggest fragment of the E-drug stores market because of its familiarity with well-being and health and rising chronic diseases in the nation. Increasing geriatric population with the chronic diseases, rising penetration of e-commerce, and rapid adoption of the digital technologies are the prominent factors that propelled the growth of E-drug store market in US. As of now, the FDA has given more data about the E-drug store to the residents, which essentially affects the development of the E-drug store market.

Europe's E-drug store market is directed by strict guidelines from the public authority, all things being equal; the development of the E-pharma industry is moderate. E-drug store is one of the most trending in both developing and developed countries of Europe. Southern European countries and Germany have been estimated to have potential for growth I E-drug store space. Expanded sponsorship from the IT sector and taking up of cloud-based innovation in each application are expanding the prerequisite for the E-drug store market.

The Asia-Pacific is second most elevated in driving the interest of the market. Asia-Pacific is required to arrive at the most elevated piece of the pie in the long run because of the rising populace and presence of huge patients. China and India are nations with a generous populace and with conspicuous vital participants that can quicken the interest in the E-drug store industry in this region.

The Middle East and Africa are best-in-class districts that have space for improvement in the years to come. Both these areas will assume a huge function in the fate of the E-drug store industry on a worldwide scale. A few developed nations such as the US, Australia, Canada, and European nations have administrative bodies such as the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which is characterized by an administration-checked web drug store locale such as Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites. These platforms identify legal and illegal sites, which determine the authenticity of sites. The Indian Government ought to likewise structure a similar platform for the smooth functioning of the E-pharmacy sector.

New York does not consider physical prescriptions. China is setting up mobile clinical centers that aim to provide immediate services and medicines to the public. Numerous E-drug stores follow the Pill Pack way of administration, where medicines are prepared and packed in advance according to the days and time measurement.[60]


 » Conclusion and the Road Ahead Top


The importance of Indian online pharmacy was not highlighted up until the SARS COVID-19 pandemic. Owing to the lack of regulations, this sector remained stagnant in terms of growth for a long period; however, this industry has witnessed a surge in its demand in recent times. With the enforcement of the lockdown, the demand for medicines increased considerably, and many customers resorted to purchasing medicines online due to precautionary measures. Due to the closure of interstate borders, mobility became an issue, and the movement of the workforce was affected greatly. For geriatric patients and those with chronic ailments, E-pharmacy was looked at as a survival means. Job opportunities have opened up in streams such as IT, Pharmaceutics, and other healthcare sectors due to the work-from-home situation. With the up-and-coming online industries such as the E-pharmacy, many people will gain employment.

The Government should work on a robust policy and provide clear-cut laws to provide a friendly environment for existing players. This provision may encourage more entrepreneurs to enter the sector and add to the general development of the online pharma business market in India. The successful installation of a rigid framework will increase the number of entrepreneurs, thereby providing affordable alternatives and accessibility to remote areas of the country.

E-pharmacies have given us a clear and accessible path to medicines. This path will be of great importance might we face similar health emergencies in the years to come. E-pharmacy will play a major role in streamlining chronic ailments, and with the initiatives of the Government, its facilities will be accessible to unreserved regions. Moreover, the collaboration of the offline and online pharmacies will be highly beneficial to the customers. It will also boost the country's economy significantly by attracting many entrepreneurs for investment and unleashing innovation across the healthcare value chain while dramatically improving access to medicines and healthcare quality across the nation.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
 » References Top

1.
Desai C. Online pharmacies: A boon or bane? Indian J Pharmacol 2016;48:615-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
2.
Indian Pharmaceutical Industry Report. Available from: https://www.ibef.org/industry/pharmaceutical-india.aspx. [Last accessed on 2021 Jun 05].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Global Pharma Looks to India: Prospects for Growth. Available from: https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/pharma-life-sciences/pdf/global-pharma-looks-to-india-final.pdf. [Last accessed on 2021 Jun 05].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
E-Pharmacies in India. Available from: https://www.remfry.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/E-pharmacies-in-India.pdf. [Last accessed on 2020 Nov 26].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Jaisani L, Pant S, Shivam K. E-Pharmacy in India: Last Mile Access to Medicines. Available from: https://ficci.in/spdocument/20746/E-Pharmacy-in-India-Last-Mile-Access-to-Medicines_v5.pdf. [Last accessed on 2020 Nov 26].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
In the Spotlight: E-Pharmacy in India an Exponential Growth Opportunity. Available from: https://ww2.frost.com/frost-perspectives/spotlight-e-pharmacy-india-exponential-growth-opportunity/. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 20].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Boom in the Online Pharmacy Market in India and the Challenges Ahead-Blogs – Televisory. Available from: https://www.televisory.com/blogs/-/blogs/boom-in-the-onlinE-pharmacy-market-in-india-and-the-challenges-ahead. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 20].  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Why eHealth is a Key Pillar of Digital India. Available from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/healthcare/biotech/pharmaceuticals/why-ehealth-is-a-key-pillar-of-digital-india/articleshow/48069561.cms?from=mdr. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 20].  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. Available from: https://pmjay.gov.in/about/pmjay. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 26].  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Importance of E-Pharmacies for a Digital India: Benefits, and Future. Available from: https://www.medlife.com/blog/importance-e-pharmacies-digital-india-benefits-future/. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 12].  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Pharmacies: All You Need to Know. Available from: http://epilepsytreatmentdrugs.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-online-pharmacies-all-you-need-to-know.html. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 26].  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Advantages of Buying Medicine from Online Pharmacy. Available from: https://www.medlife.com/blog/advantages-buying-online-medicine-onlinE-pharmacy/. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 12].  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using an Online Pharmacy-Find Health Tips. Available from: https://www.findhealthtips.com/advantages-disadvantages-using-onlinE-pharmacy/. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 26].  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Challenges and Future of Online Pharmacies-Tushar Kumar, Medlife CEO. Available from: https://www.medlife.com/blog/challenges-future-online-pharmacies-tushar-kumar-ceo/. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 26].  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Online vs Offline Pharmacies? Available from: https://www.assuredpharmacy.co.uk/blog/general/online-vs-offline-pharmacies/. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 26].  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
Evolution of E-Pharmacies in India – Booming Present, but an Uncertain Future Available from: https://www.mondaq.com/india/food-and-drugs-law/720464/evolution-of-e-pharmacies-in-india-booming-present-but-an-uncertain-future. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 26].  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
The Evolution of Online Pharmacies. Available from: https://selfcarejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Gray-2.376-86.pdf. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 26].  Back to cited text no. 17
    
18.
India Pharma 2020: Propelling Access and Acceptance, Realizing true Potential. Available from: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/Pharma%20and%20Medical%20Products/PMP%20NEW/PDFs/778886_India_Pharma_2020_Propelling_Access_and_Acceptance_Realising_True_Potential.ashx. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 26].  Back to cited text no. 18
    
19.
How E-Pharmacy Can Empower Consumers, Retail News, ET Retail. Available from: https://retail.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/health-and-beauty/pharmacy/how-E-pharmacy-can-empower-consumers/47427910. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 26].  Back to cited text no. 19
    
20.
The Coming of Age of e-Health Platforms. Available from: https://www.livemint.com/news/india/the-coming-of-age-of-e-health-platforms-11590324836814.html. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 20
    
21.
Improving Internet Access Facilitating Online Drug Sales, Driving ePharmacy market at 12.3% CAGR: Transparency Market Research. Available from: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/improving-internet-access-facilitating-online-drug-sales-driving-epharmacy-market-at-12-3-cagr-transparency-market-research-301012366.html. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 15].  Back to cited text no. 21
    
22.
Digital India. Available from: https://www.digitalindia.gov.in/. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 22
    
23.
Govt Initiatives to Boost Indian E-pharmacy Market. Available from: http://www.pharmabiz.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?aid=113813&sid=21. [Last accessed on 2020 Sep 17].  Back to cited text no. 23
    
24.
National Health Stack: Strategy and Approach. Available from: http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/content/456923/national-health-stack-strategy-and-approach/. [Last accessed on 2020 Sep 17].  Back to cited text no. 24
    
25.
Healthcare Budget: India Doubles Healthcare Spending, Opens up Insurance in “get well soon” Budget-The Economic Times. Available from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/india-doubles-healthcare-spending-opens-up-insurance-in-get-well-soon-udget/articleshow/80629478.cms?from=mdr. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 25
    
26.
Non-Communicable Diseases. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 26
    
27.
Regulator Plans Single-Window System for New Drug Approvals. Available from: https://www.livemint.com/Industry/76VIrrCWWE3VN9bgIMnfPN/Regulator-plans-singlewindow-system-for-new-drug-approvals.html. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 27
    
28.
Pharmaceuticals IBEF. Available from: https://www.ibef.org/download/Pharmaceuticals-Nov-2018.pdf. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 28
    
29.
E-Pharmacy in India Is Winning the Battle over Traditional Medicines. Available from: https://www.psychreg.org/E-pharmacy-india/. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 29
    
30.
e-Pharmacies Can Collaborate with CSCs to Improve Healthcare Access in Rural areas: MoS Health & Family Welfare. Available from: https://ficci.in/pressrelease-page.asp?nid=3852. [Last accessed on 2021 Sep 27].  Back to cited text no. 30
    
31.
Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Available from: https://www.nhp.gov.in/drugs-and-cosmetics-act_mtl. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 31
    
32.
Priyanka VP, Ashok BK. E-pharmacies regulation in India: Bringing new dimensions to pharma sector. Pharm Regul Aff 2016;5:175.  Back to cited text no. 32
    
33.
E-Pharmacy Caught in a Logjam. Available from: http://www.businessworld.in/article/E-pharmacy-Caught-In-A-Logjam/25-04-2020-190272/. [Last accessed on 2020 Aug 20].  Back to cited text no. 33
    
34.
Dutta S. E-Pharmacy in India: Issues and Challenges. Available from: https://amity.edu/UserFiles/aibs/bf7f2017%20AIJJS%20Final_28-33.pdf. [Last accessed on 2020 Aug 20].  Back to cited text no. 34
    
35.
E-Pharmacies in India — Regulatory Landscape and Challenges-Express Pharma. Available from: https://www.expresspharma.in/management-pharma/e-pharmacies-in-india-regulatory-landscape-and-challenges/. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 35
    
36.
ePharmacy-Global Trends and Challenges that India Presents, Health News, ET Health World. Available from: https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/pharma/epharmacy-global-trends-and-challenges-that-india-presents/67866010. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 15].  Back to cited text no. 36
    
37.
E-Commerce: Will E-Pharmacies Become the Norm?-Express Pharma. Available from: https://www.expresspharma.in/guest-blogs/e-commerce-will-e-pharmacies-become-the-norm/. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 37
    
38.
Chemists Oppose Entry of Reliance into E-Pharmacy: The Tribune India. Available from: https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/amritsar/chemists-oppose-entry-of-reliance-into-E-pharmacy-129955. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 15].  Back to cited text no. 38
    
39.
Blow to E-Pharmacies as Centre Orders a Halt to Sales. Available from: https://www.livemint.com/news/india/government-directs-states-to-take-action-against-unlicensed-online-pharmacies-11575376011403.html. [Last accessed on 2020 Sep 10].  Back to cited text no. 39
    
40.
Draft Rules for Operation of E-Pharmacies in India. Available from: https://www.novojuris.com/thought-leadership/draft-rules-for-operation-of-e-pharmacies-in-india. [Last accessed on 2020 Sep 10].  Back to cited text no. 40
    
41.
Jain VH, Tadv SA, Pawar SP. Review on the pros and cons of online Pharmacies. J Appl Pharm Res 2017;5:20-6. Available from: https://www.japtronline.com/index.php/joapr/article/view/73. [Last accessed on 2020 Sep 10].  Back to cited text no. 41
    
42.
Online Pharmacy Retailers Unite to Form Indian Internet Pharmacy Association. Available from: http://www.pharmabiz.com/NewsDetails.aspx?aid=91089&sid=1. 21]. [Last accessed on 27 Feb 20].  Back to cited text no. 42
    
43.
Available from: https://www.linkedin.com/company/1mg/about/. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 43
    
44.
PharmEasy: How it Works! Available from: https://pharmeasy.in/blog/how-pharmeasy-works/. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 44
    
45.
CareOnGo: Har Ghar Ki Pharmacy. Available from: https://www.careongo.com/. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 45
    
46.
Medlife International Healthcare. Available from: https://www.medlifeinternational.com/medlife.html. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 46
    
47.
Medlife Acquires Medicine Delivery Start-up Myra Medicines-Express Pharma. Available from: https://www.expresspharma.in/latest-updates/medlife-acquires-medicine-delivery-startup-myra-medicines/. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 47
    
48.
Medlife Acquires Myra Medicines for Express Delivery and Data Science Capabilities. Available from: https://www.forbesindia.com/article/special/medlifes-acquires-myra-medicines-for-express-delivery-and-data-science-capabilities/53373/1. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 48
    
49.
Netmeds: Overview. Available from: https://www.netmeds.com/. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 49
    
50.
A Pharmacist's Business Model for an Online Pharmacy. Available from: https://www.emedstore.in/blog/Post/a-pharmacists-business-model-or-an-onlinE-pharmacy/83. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 50
    
51.
Long Wait for E-Pharmacy Rules. Available from: http://pharmabiz.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?aid=129940&sid=3. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 51
    
52.
Regulation of E-pharmacies in India. Available from: https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=be7476c9-6d91-41a4-bc20-6fe78637bc22. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 19].  Back to cited text no. 52
    
53.
Approach and Key Components of e-Kranti. Available from: https://pib.gov.in/newsite/printrelease.aspx?relid=117690. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 53
    
54.
Thawani V, Mani A, Upmanyu N. Why the Jan Aushadhi Scheme has lost its steam in India? J Pharmacol Pharmacother 2017;8:134-6.  Back to cited text no. 54
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
55.
Common Services Centers, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India. Available from: https://www.meity.gov.in/content/common-services-centers-0. [Last acessed on 2021 Feb 28].  Back to cited text no. 55
    
56.
Chellaiyan VG, Nirupama AY, Taneja N. Telemedicine in India: Where do we stand? J Family Med Prim Care 2019;8:1872-6.  Back to cited text no. 56
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
57.
National eHealth Authority. Available from: https://www.nhp.gov.in/national_eHealth_authority_neha_mtl. [Last accessed on 2020 Sep 17].  Back to cited text no. 57
    
58.
Integrated Health Information Program. Available from: https://www.nhp.gov.in/integrated_health_information_program_mtl. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 15].  Back to cited text no. 58
    
59.
Sugam Online Portal-A Brief Overview. Available from: https://morulaa.com/cdsco/sugam-online-portal-a-brief-overview/. [Last accessed on 2020 Nov 29].  Back to cited text no. 59
    
60.
ePharmacy-Global Trends and Challenges that India Presents, Health News, ET Health World. Available from: https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/pharma/epharmacy-global-trends-and-challenges-that-india-presents/67866010. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 27].  Back to cited text no. 60
    


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2]



 

Top
Print this article  Email this article
 

    

Site Map | Home | Contact Us | Feedback | Copyright and Disclaimer | Privacy Notice
Online since 20th July '04
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow