It pays to buy medicines on apps or online; you not only save money, you also get regular updates for the future
When it comes to medication, costs can be prohibitive for various reasons, but two stands out the most—what the doctors prescribe and where you buy the medicines from. For instance, at times even a common multi vitamin could cost you a bomb depending on the pharmaceutical company manufacturing it. There is also a chance that your doctor has prescribed a drug by a particular pharmaceutical company instead of a generic name of the drug, as mentioned in the Medical Council of India (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulation 2002. Sensing an opportunity, entrepreneurs have stepped in with smart alternatives.
Several tech-based healthcare companies have mushroomed which offer prescription and over-the counter (OTC) drugs with 10 to 30 per cent off the MRP. For patients on long-term medication, this alternative is a big boon. The modus operandi for these apps and online pharmacies is somewhat similar—the economies of scale and enhanced logistics work in their favour. For instance, many of them don’t stock medicines at all, but have tied-up with local pharmacies which manage the last-mile delivery.
“I prefer buying medicines online from 1mg as it helps me save the transportation cost and also gets me a 10 per cent discount on every purchase,” says Delhi-based Avinash Sourav, a video journalist. The medicines are for his mother as well as generics that are commonly used at home. Discount aside, with push facilities like reminders for the next round of medicines for patients on long-term medication, these websites and apps engage with customers detailing offerings and features.
Just the way there are airline aggregators, some of the online pharmacies are more of technology companies than pharmacies. Take for instance PharmEasy, a pharmacy aggregator, which has added features in its app that makes users gain from the automatic healthcare tracking system. “We are aiming to track the healthcare journey of every consumer through our platform, which will enable us to target them efficiently,” says Dhaval Shah, cofounder, PharmEasy.
Like any other web venture or app, all you need for a start is to register and login. Once you have crossed this stage, depending on the type of engagement you are seeking, you can upload your prescription to get the right dose and medicines for the duration that is prescribed. You also receive prompt updates about alternate generic options, price variations and the delivery details which can help one to use the services or visit the local pharmacy.
“I normally use PharmEasy as it gives me the maximum discount among other options in my area,” says Kolkata based CA aspirant, Prerit Agarwal. He is quite pleased with the advantage of saving time, proper bills and discounts. “PharmEasy takes almost a day for delivery, so for urgent needs, I use Frank Ross which delivers in hours,” he adds.
Says Ranjith S., marketing manager, NetMeds, “We have a refill option for customers who want the same items as they had ordered earlier. This helps in case of bulk orders.” The company caters to over 9,000 consumers daily and offers a 20 per cent discount on prescribed medicines but not on OTC products. Going by the discounts that online and app-based pharmacies offer, several physical pharmacies too have got into the act of providing 10 per cent discount to bulk buyers.
However, it is not just about discount that has caught the fancy of people to use these services. Add-on features like tie-ups with diagnostic centres, consultation with doctors, and bringing a wide net of medical services through their offerings have made the case for these online medicines buying option. The efficient handling of prescription with exact number of medicines, no trouble on change in case of cash transaction, and door-step delivery has resulted in medicine shopping catching up than being a chore.
Some of the online ventures are region specific as logistics play a crucial role in the viability of these businesses. So, do look out for what is on offer before you zero down on an app or a website. Yes, there are sceptics who prefer the walk down to the local pharmacy for a quick chat and medicines they need. But, just the way there are more books, groceries, airline tickets and clothes finding way to your home through an online purchase, buying medicines is not going to be left too far behind.