On­line phar­ma­cies are help­ing to lower health­care costs in In­dia

They are also mak­ing drugs more ac­ces­si­ble in re­mote ar­eas. But if you need a drug im­me­di­ately, which is of­ten the case, your lo­cal drug­gist is still the best op­tion

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - SUNDAY SPECIAL -

of drugs,” say on­line play­ers. Tan­don says off­line is more sus­cep­ti­ble to ma­nip­u­la­tion and fraud. “Pun­jab to­day has an opi­oid cri­sis only be­cause of lack of law en­force­ment in the off­line space,” says Tan­don.

But none of this is likely to im­me­di­ately take away the rel­e­vance of off­line drug­gists. In many cases, you need the drugs im­me­di­ately, un­like a smart­phone or a pair of jeans. That’s not some­thing on­line can do. “We can’t re­place what off­line is do­ing. The ar­rival of Ama­zon and Flip­kart didn’t see the ex­tinc­tion of off­line stores. It’s the same with us,” says Netmeds’ Dadha.

The on­line as­so­ci­a­tion DHP has also de­cided to avoid sale of habit-form­ing nar­cotic, psy­chotropic drugs and painkillers. “As a sel­f­reg­u­lated body, we have de­cided to not sell sched­ule X drugs,” says Ra­jiv Gu­lati, gen­eral sec­re­tary of DHP and founder of e-phar­macy mChemist. DHP will fo­cus on car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, can­cer, hy­per­ten­sion, di­a­betes, asthma, arthri­tis or con­di­tions of the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem. The ob­jec­tive is to meet the need for drugs for chronic con­di­tions.

“I see no rea­son for off­line re­tail­ers to feel threat­ened. We form such a mi­nus­cule por­tion of drug sales that we can play a com­ple­men­tary role. We are look­ing at mak­ing drugs more ac­ces­si­ble. Af­ter all, it may not be prof­itable to set up brick-and-mor­tar stores in tier-3 cities or re­mote vil­lages and towns,” says Gu­lati.

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