Proliferation of e-pharmacies is not a secret. Is it a boon or bane?
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Proliferation of e-pharmacies is not a secret. Is it a boon or bane?

Noida and Greater Noida residents are opting for it as its hassle-free, cheaper and convenient. 

Proliferation of e-pharmacies is not a secret. Is it a boon or bane?

Amidst the on-going confusion about whether the e-pharmacy should be banned or not in India. CitySpidey tries to understand the pulse of the online purchasing of medicines in Noida and Greater Noida.

As per Frost and Sullivan's report on e-pharmacies in India, the estimated market size of online-pharmacies in India was around $512 million (Rs 3,500 crore) in 2018. Going by its prediction by 2022, the online industry is expected to reach $3.6 billion (Rs 25,000 crore) and will cover 30 per cent of drugs sold in India in a year.

Apart from the rising growth trends, several arguments are hovering around the e-pharmacies. Some are of the view that the easy availability of medicines can lead to misuse and therefore, it should be banned in India, while others highlight its cost and time-saving factors.

Anita Prajapati, a resident of Greater Noida's Gaur City 6th Avenue, informed CitySpidey that she purchases medicines online due to higher discounts and comfort of getting them while sitting at home. She said that while the local pharmacies give a discount of 10 per cent, she gets a discount of 20-30 per cent online. 

“At times, they (e-pharmacy) also arrange an alternate in case the medicine which was ordered is not in stock," she added.

Speaking about her experience with e-pharmacy, Anita said that she sometimes finds it difficult to find 'rare' medicines in the local shops. “There have been instances when a particular medicine prescribed by the doctor was not available in local stores and I had no option but to purchase them online later,” said Anita.

Talking about the local market, Anita said that while there are many medical shops including branded chains near her house, there are very few Homeopathy and Ayurvedic medical stores.

A resident of Noida, shared the same view when asked whether he buys his medicines online. Giriraj, a resident of Assotech Windsor Court in Sector 78 said, “I was searching for a specific medicine (Formonide 400) in almost all medical stores near me but didn't get the same. Hence, I ordered it online”.

While several residents of Noida and Greater Noida area believed that they bought medicines online because it was hassle-free, cheap and convenient, Brijesh Kumar Sharma, a resident of Antriksh Golf View-2 had a different perspective to share.

He said that online medicines are cheap because they are bought in bulk with the same expiry date. Brijesh said that for instance, if the bulk was bought a few years ago and is purchased now, its expiry date will be very near.

Speaking about the delivery of medicines, Brijesh said that delivery itself is a problem as the person is dependent on the second party, which can also take up to a week to deliver. Whereas, locally, the person can go physically and buy his medicines.

Brijesh questions the legal aspect of buying medicines online, he said that when a person buys something from a shop, the shop-owner is to be taken into accountability, whereas on online it is a long process. We (Indians) are not well versed with laws of online buying, therefore, it tends to get delayed with no option in the hands of the buyer who again is dependent on the third party.

Talking about the monetary loss associated with return, Brijesh said that while there is a provision to return a product, the buyer is yet again dependent on the e-pharmacy to return the money into his account. The same procedure is applicable for the cash on delivery (COD) payments, which again takes at least a week’s time.

He further added that there are chances that the returned money gets stuck between the bank and the e-commerce firm, in that case, 45 days of delay can happen if the aggrieved customer approaches the bank in writing.