Online pharmacy marketplace 1mg has acquired the alternate medicine website Homeobuy for an undisclosed amount. Post acquisition, Homeobuy has been rebranded to 1mgAyush and will sell homeopathic and ayurvedic medicines to customers in New Delhi.
Founded by Vivek Singh, Homeobuy lists various Indian homeopathic and biochemic medicines, along with its description, active ingredients, recommended dosage and mode of action etc. Users can also use the platform to get in touch with the company’s homeopathic panel, which it claims will provide users with an online prescription for their condition. Obviously this service comes with a disclaimer that it’s not a substitute for proper medical diagnosis.
1mg on the other hand provides users with prescription drugs, although users need to first submit their prescriptions online. On the website, users can compare drug prices and find cheaper substitutes for their original medicine made by different manufacturers. The platform claims to have qualified pharmacists on board who provide relevant info about medicines by scanning products. 1mg claims to have had over 1.5 million app downloads and a database of 100,000 medicines with detailed info about side effects, interactions and compositions.
Funding and demerger: Previously both HealthKart and HealthKartPlus were run by Bright Lifecare, of which HealthKartPlus was spun off as 1mg Technologies in April this year. 1mg also raised $6 million in funding from Deep Kalra, founder of MakeMyTrip, Sequoia Capital, Omidyar Network, Intel Capital and Kae Capital in the same month. The company had said it would use the funds to scale up and expand to other cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and Chandigarh by the end of 2015.
Interestingly, towards the end of 2013, HealthKartPlus had expanded operations to Bangalore. However it looks like the company might have scaled down as it currently offers delivery only in Delhi-NCR and Bhubaneshwar. For now, HealthKart and 1mg will continue to exist as separate companies.
HealthKart was founded by Prashant Tandon and Sameer Maheshwari in 2011 and lists health and personal care products for sale along with supplements. It launched the online generic drug search engine HealthKartPlus.com in 2012. Tandon will head 1mg while Maheshwari will continue looking after HealthKart.
DCGI guidelines: Note that the Indian Pharmacists Association (IPA) had written a letter to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for not allowing ecommerce companies and online pharmacies to sell medicine and drugs in India. Abhay Kumar, national president of the IPA told MediaNama that the moves of the DCGI is in contravention of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act which says that drugs can be dispensed only in registered pharmacies and cannot be sold online.
The DCGI is formulating a framework for online sales of medicines through e-commerce channels. Industry body FICCI has been appointed as the nodal agency by the DCGI to consolidate the guidelines, and said it will seek the views of various representative bodies.
Similarly, the Maharashtra FDA had lodged an FIR against Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl and the company’s directors for selling prescription drugs online. Maharashtra FDA commissioner Harshdeep Kamble said that only licensed chemists can sell Schedule H drugs like emergency contraceptives that were available on Snapdeal. Note that unlike Snapdeal that got into trouble for selling medicines without prescriptions, 1mg requires its users to upload a prescription before being able to order medicines.