Amazon India launches online pharmacy service

Bengaluru: E-commerce firm Amazon India has launched Amazon Pharmacy, marking its entry into the online medicine segment that has significant gained momentum during the covid-19 led lockdown and even after unlocking.

It has launched the online pharmacy service in Bengaluru to begin with, and may conduct pilots in other cities too going forward.

The lockdown and social distancing have prompted customers to move to online consultation, treatment, medical tests and medicine delivery. Healthcare startups Practo, NetMeds, 1mg, PharmEasy and Medlife are witnessing a huge surge in demand and a spurt in funding activity, similar to edtech platforms, which outperformed all other sectors among startups.

“As a part of our commitment to fulfill the needs of customers, we are launching Amazon Pharmacy in Bengaluru allowing customers to order prescription-based medication in addition to over-the-counter medicines, basic health devices and Ayurveda medication from certified sellers. This is particularly relevant in present times as it will help customers meet their essential needs while staying safe at home,” an Amazon spokesperson said.

According to RedSeer Consulting, India’s digital health market will expand to $4.5 billion in this financial year, compared with $1.2 billion in FY20. The consultancy has upped its estimate of the digital health market to $25 billion in FY25, compared with its pre-covid estimate of $19 billion. Medicine delivery will continue to comprise a large majority of the market, according to RedSeer.

Bigger healthcare firms like Practo, 1mg, Medlife, PharmEasy, Netmeds as well as smaller startups like BeatO and mfine are registering increasing user interest and demand post covid, as people spend on boosting their immunity, treat illnesses through online consultations and buy medicines online.

Teleconsultations at Bengaluru-based on-demand healthcare service Mfine have grown 3-4 times in recent months. E-health platform Practo Technologies too registered a 600% growth in online consultations since the lockdown started in March, with 70% of all users being first-time telemedicine users and 45% from smaller cities.

Several countries are trying to shift healthcare delivery on to the internet, incentivise telemedicine, encourage online medicine bookings and use chatbots to answer patient queries.

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