With Reliances Jio ushering in an internet revolution, there is a tremendous increase in the e-com in most industries and Pharma is no different. Here we reflect on the ways in which the Pharma industry has been affected by e-com business, the latest major development in the industry:
People are used to trusting brick-and-mortar pharma distributors and the personal contact invokes trust that customers might need. Buying drugs online has thus long been considered impractical or even dangerous by people. This though is now changing as the e-com companies are gaining the trust of customers.
2. Industry-specific laws
Given its sensitive nature, the Pharma industry is very rightly a highly regulated business but these same regulations have to pay a special consideration while developing an e-com business. Some of the laws governing the industry include Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, The Pharmacy Act, 1948 and Pharmacy Practice Regulations 2015 etc. Besides these laws, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has also announced the launch of the "Self- Regulation Code of Conduct for the E Pharmacy Sector" to create standards themselves that make sure that measures are taken to ensure the safety of the customers on 21
November 2016. These laws and regulation are very specific about who can sell the drugs, the storage conditions etc.
The pharma industry has to face a number of industry-specific challenges. Such as medical drugs can't be sold without prescription because of laws and so a system has to be devised in which help the customer prove that they have a medical prescription. Again, some drugs might expire very quickly and so their delivery must be made rather quickly.
4. Misuse of prescription
An important consideration when it comes to doing e-com business is the potential misuse of prescription it encourages. The same prescription can be used to order multiple quantities of drugs at different sites. This kind of makes it impossible to use e-com for selling narcotics, psychological drugs, tranquilizers etc.
5. Consumer medical equipment
One subsector that has seen a lot of e-commerce is consumer medical equipment including things like glasses and hearing aids. Customers have shown a great preference for shopping such things online.
6. Increased competition
E-com already has giants like Amazon who can readily expand into pharma distribution, this increases competition among distributors while making it easy for drug manufacturers who can easily use such distributors to sell their drugs.
7. Regulatory machinery
Pharma licenses are given by state governments and thus a state license might permit you to sell a drug only within a state. However, anyone from anywhere can buy a drug using e-com and this presents some technical challenges.
8. Storage and transportation problems
Drugs can’t be stored with other items and, in fact, different drugs must be stored in different kind of conditions according to their nature and there are legal requirements to consider as well.
Much like with storage, transportation of drugs present its own challenges. A number of factors have to be considered such as making sure that the drug won’t lose its potency during the time, won’t be exposed to the averse atmosphere, won’t get expired etc.
Overall, it can be said that e-pharma is a positive development for the Pharma industry and is a change here to stay. The future of the industry is bright as more and more people have started trusting the e- commerce companies with their needs for healthcare products. We hope you like this blog