The Global e-Pharma market is experiencing fast growth and is expected to reach somewhere between USD 85 billion and USD 109 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of around 15%. Similarly, Frost & Sullivan’s research says that Indian e-pharmacy is expected to reach USD 3.5 billion by 2022. The growth numbers are pretty impressive, and the market is getting ready for the adoption of e-Pharmacies as well.
The e-Pharma sector consists of these 3 business models primarily
- Marketplace – typical e-commerce platform with buyers and sellers for mostly over the counter (OTC) drugs.
- Inventory-led hybrid (online/offline) – companies aggregating inventories from different players and offering to consumers
- Franchise-led hybrid (online/offline) – companies offering both online and franchises of their offerings.
The reasons why e-Pharma business seems to be booming are
- Easy access to medicines
- E-Commerce has made it easy for anyone to shop from their home, no need to go out and find a pharmacy.
- Schedule medicines in advance to avoid empty bottles.
- Easy to share medication history at a doctor’s office.
- Cost reduction through options and efficiency
- Bulk purchases and no storefront allow e-Pharma to offer medicines cheaper.
- Recurring fills make filling doses efficient as multiple prescriptions can be filled at one time.
The benefits are huge. However, there are some big challenges too
- Prescription fraud
- There is a risk of prescription fraud in places where e-Pharma is not automatically connected to the doctor’s office.
- Government regulations
- In most countries, the regulations are still not very matured for e-Pharma. e-Pharma companies have to comply with Pharmacy regulations as well as IT regulations and getting them to strictly comply comes with a bunch of loopholes that are still being worked on in different parts of the world.
- Data privacy issues
- Data privacy is still a serious issue in many parts of the world. While a lot of countries have taken big steps in managing the data, many countries are still immature with their data policies which may complicate the overall trust scenario.
- Retail pharmacy
- In counties like India, where retail pharmacies enjoy more than 80% share in supply, e-Pharma poses challenges similar to what e-commerce did to consumer retail. The debate lingers on.
The e-Pharma sector is on the growth track and it is up to the regulators to make sure that everything works out better for the larger audience – the people. Hopefully, the data privacy and security regulators across the world take a holistic look at improving the lives of people while keeping their identities safe too.