The Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya is reportedly set to meet with representatives of epharmacies to discuss concerns around the space, particularly data privacy and irrational sales of prescription drugs. Privacy of patient data is a major area of concern for the government, as digital pharmacies collect area-wise data on drug consumption that could increase risks associated with patient safety. A group of ministers (GoM) had earlier advocated a ban on epharmacies citing allegations of malpractices, predatory pricing, and data privacy concerns. The epharmacy space, dominated by startups and conglomerates such as PharmEasy, NetMeds, Tata 1mg, Flipkart, and Amazon in India, has been marred by regulatory hurdles. The government is currently working on a revised version of the New Drugs, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill, which grants it the powers to regulate, restrict, or prohibit the sale of any drug via online mode.
It seems that the epharmacy industry in India is facing regulatory hurdles and concerns around data privacy, with the government now working on a revised bill to regulate and restrict the sale of drugs via online mode. This, coupled with macroeconomic challenges and investor preference for profitable ventures, has pushed epharmacies to a corner. It remains to be seen how the industry will navigate these challenges and evolve to meet the changing regulatory and investment landscape.
The funding winter and the shelved public listing of players such as PharmEasy have made it difficult for the homegrown epharmacy space in India. Despite this, the sector is expected to reach a market size of INR 8,947 crore by 2027. However, with investors now focusing on profitable ventures or those with a clear path to profitability, epharmacies will need to address the issue of cash burn to attract further investment. Additionally, the regulatory hurdles and data privacy concerns in the sector remain a challenge for epharmacies in India.