ePharmacy is a subset of pharmacy that operates through an online platform to sell medicines, drugs, and healthcare products to consumers. ePharmacy is also called the online pharmacy. Penetration of the internet has facilitated the procurement of medicines through these pharmacies. The online pharmacies collect online orders and ensure to deliver them in the estimated time at the consumer’s doorsteps. The consumer base of these pharmacies has been accelerated as they provide the doorstep facility to their consumers. Since the last two decades, the trend of ePharmacy and the selling of drugs has increased.
The objective of online pharmacy is to boost the process of delivering medicines ensuring pharmacological safety and increased efficiency. The hospitals & companies falling under the category of online pharmacy are platforms serving pharmacy companies, independent internet-only outlets, and electronic subsidiaries of “brick-and-mortar” hospitals. In the past few years, a significant surge is witnessed in e-commerce activities such as online shopping and sales of prescribed and non-prescribed medicines and drugs. Additionally, customers can purchase prescribed medicines utilizing the internet and receive them at their doorstep within the estimated time.
Steps through which an ePharmacy model operates:
- With the help of applications such as smartphones and tablets, consumers will upload a scanned copy of their prescription and place an order to purchase the prescribed medicines.
- All orders are carefully checked and verified by a team of registered pharmacists.
- The order is forwarded to the nearest pharmacy store after its validation.
- Finally, the order is received by the mobile or web-based application in the pharmacy store that works under the IT Act 2000.
Benefits of ePharmacy:
- Variety of brands are available: In comparison to traditional pharmacies, a wide range of brands of the same composition are available in online pharmacies. In addition to this, a wide range of alternatives is also available in stocks in online pharmacies. Traditional stores do not offer such kind of variety due to which, the demand for online pharmacy is boosting.
- Provide medicines/products at low prices: These online pharmacies also offer medicines and drugs at low prices to their customers. According to the surveys conducted by research bodies states that, through online shopping of medicines, customers may save upto one-third of the price. Moreover, such pharmacies to gain more attention from customers provide them extra offers.
- Transactions are easy and secured: The confidential data like home address, atm card number, phone number, and others provided by customers at the time of payment are kept secure. These pharmacies focus on offering safe transactions and keep the data encrypted so that no one can decode it.
- Time-saving: The procurement of medications through online pharmacies, helps customers to save their time as they can order the medicines while sitting at home. There is no need to visit the retail pharmacy and stand in line to purchase medicines.
- Maintain confidentiality and privacy of data: Several patients feel embarrassed or are introverted and face problems while briefing their problems. For such patients, online pharmacies are very much helpful. Also, ePharmacies make sure that such information to be kept secured to maintain patient's trust.
Drawbacks of ePharmacy:
- Self-diagnosing: Many times, customers witness symptoms of minor illness and face problems in diagnosing the correct problem. Then on analyzing the problem on their own, they order medicines without a prescription. In this situation, there are high chances that the patient may experience side effects and other health-related problems.
- Absenteeism of physical evaluation: As online pharmacies provide convenience and ease in delivering medicines, there is a lack of physical interaction between pharmacists and patients. Due to this, there is an issue in diagnosing the correct problem.
- Low surety in customers: Several times, patients suffer from minor illnesses like fever, flu, viral diseases, headache. For these illnesses, they order medicines just by telling their symptoms to the pharmacists. In some pharmacies, the pharmacists are not skilled and prescribe the medicines just by their prior experience. This may cause a negative impact on the health of the patient.
- The arrival of unauthorized ePharmacy: Due to the emergence of COVID-19, various pharmacies transformed themselves into ePharmacies. At the time of transformation, various other pharmacies have also been set up even without having approval from the regulatory bodies. Due to this, customers are losing interest in purchasing medicines from online pharmacies.
In today’s time, purchasing drugs, medicines, and other healthcare products from ePharmacy is the best option. The increasing number of internet users and growing penetration of the internet are some of the factors boosting the growth of the ePharmacy market. Additionally, the rising number of initiatives by the government and increasing awareness are also witnessed to accelerate the growth of the market.
Moreover, these pharmacies are emphasizing surging their customer base by offering products and medicines at reasonable prices. Further, with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are avoiding stepping out of their homes to keep themselves safe from the infectious virus.