With the arrival of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s e-pharmacy space is witnessing a tremendous surge for orders related to medical devices, personal protective equipment, aka PPE kits, and more.
According to the company executives of various online pharmacies, consumers from large metros and tier-II cities opt for ordering online rather than visiting brick and mortar pharmacies and diagnostic centres. And this has driven up sales by 25-65% for players in this space.
1mg, one among the top three online pharmacies in India, mentioned that medicines such as Fabiflu and Doxzee (considered effective against mild COVID-19 cases) saw a 40-50x increase in sales in April when compared to March. Whilst overall COVID-19 related products on its platform saw a 5x jump for the same period. But that’s not all. Sales have also increased for several FMCG products.
As per industry trackers, the growth of the e-pharmacy sector is riding high on top of an already robust 35% increase in revenue from last year. The space saw a 3x expansion in the number of users in 2020.
Ankur Pahwa, Partner and National Leader for the E-commerce and Consumer Internet sector at EY India, said that the growth of online pharmacies might slow due as the base is much larger now. However, given the greater digital adoption, 2021 will also observe a relatively high growth.
According to EY’s estimates, the country’s online pharmacy sector will grow to a whopping $2.7 billion by 2023, from $360 million in 2019.
Under the condition of anonymity, a company executive said that the second wave of COVID-19 is leading to a surge in demand for COVID-19 related drugs and devices in the offline market. As the situation is nothing short of dire, consumers are exploring every possible avenue to stock up on essential medicines and medical gears such as O2 level meters and PPE kits.
Currently, online pharmacies and companies in the digital health space are also looking forward to joining the country’s massive vaccination drive. In the last week, Prosus-backed Pharmeasy mentioned that it would be working with several corporates, resident welfare associations aka RWAs and healthcare providers to vaccinate close to 30 million people.
A person who is aware of the developments revealed that Pharmeasy’s online consumer-facing retail operations registered sales worth Rs 140 crores as of March 2021, from Rs 100 crores during the same month last year, a 40% y-o-y growth in gross merchandise value aka GMV.
Besides Pharmeasy, even Practo, the healthcare booking platform, is also looking to vaccinate close to 10 million people in the country. (largely corporates). The company said that it has already seen interest from 500 India Inc companies that employ close to 1 million individuals. It looks forward to working with 1,000 more companies in their first round of the vaccination programme.
Thus, all in all, it is well understood that India’s e-pharmacy sector has stepped up to the country’s rescue in a humongous way in these challenging times while the space subsequently benefits from COVID-led accelerated growth. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.