e-Pharma mkt to be driven by growing Internet penetration: Study

Chennai: The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of e-pharmacies in India will be around 63 per cent and reach $3.6 billion (Rs 25,000 crore) in three years, said a report.

Released by Frost & Sullivan, the report on e-pharmacies in India says the market size of e-pharmacies was around $512 million (Rs 3,500 crore) in 2018.

It predicts a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 63 per cent to reach $3.6 billion (Rs 25,000 crore) by 2022. That will be over 30 per cent of the drugs sold in India a year.

The report comes at a time when online pharmacy market in the country is facing regulatory and legal uncertainty at present. It also states that a consolidation phase has begun in the world of mushrooming e-pharmacies.

According to the report, growth will mainly be driven by improved access to medicines for a large portion of the population, long term drug use for chronic illnesses and growing Internet penetration across the country.

The report states that online sale of medicines could account for 15-20 per cent of total pharmaceutical sales over the next 10 years. Digital India initiative, a push for e-healthcare in the country and insurance schemes like Ayushman Bharat will support the sector, it said.

Asia is still emerging in the global e-pharmacy market, which is led by North America and Europe. India’s organised pharma retail market is valued at Rs 1.3 lakh crore and is the third-largest in terms of volume globally, according to the report.

Main industry players include Medlife, which commands a 30 per cent market share, Netmeds, 1MG, PharmEasy, Myra, CareOnGo and Pharmasafe.

It must be noted that Chennai based Netmeds.com, one of the largest e-pharmacies with claims of more than 3.7 million customers in over 610 cities and towns, recently acquired health-tech start-up KiViHealth, a clinic management platform providing cloud-based AI-powered tools for doctor-patient interaction, in a cash and stock deal. Netmeds will invest $10 million to grow the acquired business.

According to the report, along with stable economic growth, improved health infrastructure and diverse healthcare finance options, the presence of a high disease burden could drive growth in this sector.

In February, Medlife acquired Mumbai-based digital healthcare platform start-up MedLabz for an undisclosed amount. Two years ago, another Delhi-based leading e-pharmacy, 1mg had acquired Varanasi-based healthcare platform Dawailelo.

Reports are also rife that ride-hailing unicorn Ola is eyeing to acquire Myra, another leading online pharmacy with operations mainly in Bangalore and Mumbai.

NT Bureau