The government is working on a policy to regulate the sale of medicines online by startups like 1mg.com, Bookmeds, mChemist, Medidart, Medlife, Medstar, Netmeds, Pharmeasy and Zigy.com that have disrupted the traditional brick and mortar model.
Although the government believes that online pharmacies can deliver affordable medicines in remotest areas of the country and can boost competition in the industry, chemists have been protesting against them alleging unethical practices by online pharma startups.
As per media reports, Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Ayog, believes that quality, costing and accessibility are critical for providing medical offerings. “E-pharmacies can help facilitate access to medicines in a timely manner, even in underserved areas. Hence, developing the right e-pharmacy policy, as well as ensuring a level playing field with brick and mortar pharmacies is critical, he said in a statement.
Kant had also written to Health Secretary CK Mishra to design a structured policy to ensure that a balance is maintained between e-pharmacies and traditional retailers.
The government is of the view that clear laws to regulate online pharmacies will enable a friendly environment for existing online retailers and may also encourage more entrepreneurs to enter the space — a move that would give a push to the overall e-commerce market in India, pegged at about $20 billion.