In an attempt to capture the soon-to-be USD 5.4 billion Indian online pharmacy sector, e-commerce major Amazon India has begun delivering medicines starting from Bengaluru.
Amazon Pharmacy delivers prescription medicines, healthcare devices and equipment, as well as healthcare packages that include immunity boosters, among other things.
“As a part of our commitment to fulfilling 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,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
Online news website Entrackr first reported this story.
The company has also been strengthening its position in the healthcare space in the US. In 2018, it acquired Pillpack that helps patients remember and manage their medication intake; in 2019 it acquired and merged health Navigator with Amazon Care to push its telemedicine business.
Going forward, Amazon India could also cross-sell insurance to customers buying medicines through Acko, the digital insurance company it acquired in 2018.
Amazon’s foray in online healthcare space comes at a time when the demand for home delivery of essential services which includes medicines is on a rise. Although, it wouldn’t be easy for the company to break into this space as it will compete with existing incumbents such as 1Mg, Practo, PharmEasy, among others. Apart from these e-pharmacy startups, Swiggy and Google-backed Dunzo have also entered this space by partnering with medicine stores.
Moreover, Reliance has also shown interest in this space as it looks to acquire five-year-old medicine delivery startup Netmeds for USD 150 million.
The sector is seeing a lot of activity in the recent past. Last year, a draft regulation by India’s Health Ministry said online pharmacy companies can’t keep an inventory of medicines and must partner with local medicine shops to facilitate home deliveries. This means Amazon wouldn’t be able to maintain an inventory of medicines and change its delivery model which is currently inventory-led.