Update: A spokesperson for Practo sent the following statement regarding Practo Order:
“Several months ago, we had stated our intent that Practo will also solve the medicine and pharmacy aspect of the healthcare experience. In line with that we are currently running a pilot in limited areas of Bangalore. We believe that with an end to end integration across Practo’s platform which has 200,000 doctors and ~ 10,000 hospitals we can provide a uniquely seamless experience to consumers. We also believe that our model addresses the concerns raised by the various stakeholders in recent times. Further, we respect and understand the concerns shared by DCGI w.r.t online pharmacies and believe that our model complies with the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and the rules thereunder.”
Earlier: Doctor booking app Practo has now added a new feature on its app which allows users to order medicine online. As of now, Practo Order delivers medicine only in a few neighbourhoods in Bangalore. The feature is not available on Practo’s website. A spokesperson for the company said that the feature is still in beta testing and is a few weeks away from being completely ready.
Practo on its terms and conditions said that it sources the medicine from licensed pharmacies in accordance with The Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940. Practo shows an “Rx” symbol for medicine that requires a prescription. Users will have to upload their prescriptions by taking a picture.
The app does not mention how many drugs are available on Practo Order but the list of medicine seems fairly populated. The list contains both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, along with Ayurvedic medicine.
DCGI ban on online sales of medicine
It’s worth pointing out that Practo is operating Practo Order despite a temporary ban on the sale of medicine online by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). The DCGI is awaiting recommendations from an expert committee headed by Dr Harshadeep Kamble, commissioner of the Maharashtra FDA to formulate its policy on e-pharmacies.
We have written to Practo on how they are operating an e-pharmacies despite the ban. We will update once we hear from them.
Earlier in December, the Drugs Consultative Committee, the advisory arm of the DCGI, had constituted a seven member Sub-Committee to examine the issue of sale of drugs on the Internet, to understand the risks and concerns of pharmaceutical e-sales. The DCGI had also in June 2015 appointed industry body FICCI as the nodal agency to consolidate and frame guidelines for online sales of medicines through e-commerce channels.
– Its immediate competition is 1mg which offers price comparison and cheaper substitutes among exact formulations for the same medicine. It asks users to submit prescriptions for prescriptions drugs. It claims to have qualified pharmacists on board who provide relevant info about medicines by scanning products.
– In October, Netmeds raised $50 million in a funding round led by OrbiMed. NetMeds was started in June last year offers a selection of both prescription drugs and non-prescription products besides personal care, wellness and household products and claims to supply over 50,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) across India from its warehouse in Chennai.
– In July 2015, mChemist, an online pharmacy started by former pharmaceutical executives, launched operations. The service also allows users to upload their prescriptions via WhatsApp.
Funding: In August, Practo raised $90 million in a Series C funding round led by Tencent and Sofina with existing investor Sequoia Capital. Google Capital, Altimeter Capital, Matrix Partners and DST Global founder Yuri Milner also participated in the round. This round totals Practo’s funding at $125 million.