After on-boarding a marque investor team, and acquiring the likes of Fitho, Genii, Insta Health and Quikwell last year, Practo is now entering into online medicine ordering segment with Practo Order. The online pharmacy or online medicine ordering is another big chunk of the health tech industry.
Speaking about entry into this new foray, a spokesperson of Practo says,
We had stated our intent that Practo will also solve the medicine and pharmacy aspect of healthcare several months ago. In line with that we are running a pilot in limited areas of Bengaluru. We believe that with an end-to-end integration with the Practo platform, the consumers will get a seamless experience.
Over the past few years, many portals have started offering the customer more options when it comes to buying their medicines online. One of these is NetMeds, which raised $50 million from OrbiMed, a healthcare-focused investment firm, Boutique investment bank, MAPE Advisory Group, and the Dadha’s family investment fund.
1Mg, a Delhi -based pharmacy recently entered the alternative medicine space with AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) by acquiring Homeojoy.com and rebranding it as 1mgAyush.com to make it available to a larger audience. mChemist started by ex- president Ranbaxy, DeliMedi and Medd.
Practo’s acquisition of Fitho marked its entry into the wellness segment. With Insta Health acquisition, the company forayed into medical records and management and acquiring Quikwell marked its deeper penetration into the appointment booking segment. With its foray into online medicine delivery, Practo might as well be looking at the whole spectrum of health-tech and preventive care.
However, Practo is little late to the party in the online ordering/delivery segment where quite a few players are there to welcome the healthcare company. The need for prescription of drugs and the verification of its authenticity is a tricky situation companies are going through. Getting a fake prescription is an easy task and does not require much effort. A major challenge online pharmas face is logistics. Unlike other items, drugs and medicines need to be delivered within a given time frame as a human life is dependent on it.
There is strong resistance for online medicine ordering by All India Organisation of Chemists & Druggists (AIOCD). They had called for a nationwide strike to oppose the “illegal” online sale of medicines. There are about 8.5 lakh chemists in the country, and it will be wrong to say that a few online pharmacies can replace them or even threaten their existence.
Will Practo be able to work along these challenges is a question that needs to be answered. The spokesperson also said that their model addresses the concerns raised by various stakeholders.