Shopping was never this easy. With online shops now catering to everything from food items to diapers and furniture to cars, there is virtually nothing you can't buy sitting at home and have it delivered at your doorstep. The latest to take the e-tailing pill are online pharmacies, a sector that was beyond the click-and-buy craze till now. Several websites have been delivering over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, but some of them have now started taking orders for prescription drugs too. The response, according to these website operators, is “overwhelming”.
These websites claim to use technology to help consumers find all the medicines they need from the convenience of their homes or offices, provided they attach a scanned copy of the doctor’s prescription. Among the popular websites offering online delivery of medicines in the National Capital Region are HealthKartPlus (www.healthkartplus.com) and YoPharma (www.YoPharma.com). Apollo Pharmacy, too, offers similar services in NCR and other cities in the country.
Having launched information service and medicine application in September 2012, HealthKartPlus launched its online medicine delivery service in April 2013, “after a feasibility study”. Vikas Chauhan, who leads the HealthKartPlus initiative, claims that over 60,000 people have already downloaded their Android, iPhone and Windows 8 apps.
YoPharma, which started delivery of medicines in February 2013, too, claims to have received a positive response. “Patients often don't have anyone to get them medicines. This is where we are of a big help,” says Chhavi Gupta, Co-founder and MD, YoPharma.
However, amid reports that several sites illegally promoting sales of drugs were found to be hosted in India, concerns have been raised over the possible misuse of medicines ordered online. But the Indian players allay such fears.
“We only process orders once we have received the prescription,” says Chauhan. YoPharma says it follows all the regulatory guidelines that are required for a brick-and-mortar pharmacy. “Web is being used only for acquiring orders, rest of the process remains offline. We have a strict check in place for prescription which are needed beforehand. This prescription can be uploaded on the website or mobile application. Orders are executed only after the prescription is checked by our pharmacist,” says Gupta.
HealthKartPlus has a different model and works with pharmacy partners. “When you place an order, HealthKartPlus will find the closest pharmacy partner in the network, and make sure that the pharmacy partner fulfils the order. We work only with select partners to ensure the quality