Exclusive: Healthkart, online health store selling which has been so far selling only non-prescription medicines now recently started selling prescription drugs through its platform Healthkartplus, which was launched in September 2012 as a search engine for prescribed drugs. Healthkartplus is now a marketplace, allowing consumers to purchase prescribed drugs, at present only in the Delhi-NCR region.
Why a marketplace for prescribed drugs? Speaking with MediaNama, Sameer Maheshwari, Co-Founder, Healthkart said that the number of drug SKUs are humongous and the market is local. Since drugs are marketed to doctors, only about 10,000-20,000 drugs might be popular in a particular locality, and Healthkart is trying to address this by providing a comprehensive view of all the available drugs.
Maheshwari claimed that Healthkartplus has a database of over 100,000 medicines for both chronic (like diabetes, hypertension) and acute (fever, common cold) diseases. When we checked Healthkartplus, we found out that the site provides information on composition, salts and substitutes for the drug. Apart from finding information on the drug, consumers can also place order by first checking if the delivery service is available for their area. Consumers need to enter their area pin code by clicking on the enter pin code button. Depending on the availability, they can place the order. The order placed on the site is then passed onto the chemist, added Maheshwari.
The company foresees people largely using this service to purchase medicines for chronic diseases. On asking about the sale and delivery of acute medicines, Maheshwari replied that people can use the portal for both information and sales. Moving forward, they plan to focus on this service mainly in the metros.
Prescription: Consumers are mandated to either upload the prescription while ordering to be authenticated by Healthkart. Or, since Healthkart believes that the prescription verification is the onus of the pharmacist, they can also verify it at the time of delivery. The minimum order value should be Rs.250.
Partnership & Revenue: Healthkart identifies lead pharmacies in different geographies that meet their quality and policy requirements. The company then gets access to their inventory of medicines, after there will verification etc. When asked about the revenue model, Maheshwari didn’t want to comment on it stating that the service is still in beta phases. However, he mentioned that it will be a model where Healthkart will get a certain percentage of the sale as commission while the larger percentage goes to the pharmacies.
Logistics: Pharmacists will be using Healthkart’s delivery services. Healthkart’s delivery services are intended to be used to help in verification and packaging of medicines at the pharmacist’s end. Healthkart will receive the order, forward it to the pharmacist, collect the drugs from them and deliver it to the customers.
Regulations: There is only Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1942 which governs the sale of drugs. This act has nothing defined for sale of drugs over the internet considering that this act was amended only once after being passed. Healthkart is 100% compliant with the regulations in this act. However, when asked about handling any changes or problems that may arise in the future with better defined regulations, Maheshwari said that Healthkart is not technically selling the drugs. It is only facilitating it while the pharmacies are the ones selling the drugs online. It appears that the onus of selling drugs online and any possible consequence of it will be faced by the pharmacies rather than Healthkart.
Competition: YoPharma based out of Delhi is another player started in 2012, which sells prescribed drugs on its website. However, Yopharma is a full-fledged pharmacy in itself and not a marketplace.
Ecommerce Marketplaces: In recent times, many ecommerce companies – like Infibeam and Flipkart – have added marketplaces, and appear to be pivoting in order to comply with Foreign Direct Investment regulations in India. Healthkart looking at a marketplace appear to be another indication of a shift that is gathering momentum.