Matrix Partners India and Times Internet have led a series A round of investment in Myra, a startup which allows people to buy medicine online. The company had earlier raised an undisclosed seed round of funding led by Matrix Partners as well and also included Pranay Chulet, co-founder & CEO of Quikr, Prashant Malik, co-founder & CTO of LimeRoad, Vamsi Duvvuri, Associate Director of Vy Capital and Pankaj Gupta, Ex Director-Product of Twitter.

The company will use the new funds to accelerate product development, expand operations to other cities, and hire new talent across engineering, data science and operations.

Myra is available only in 3 kms of Malleshwaram, Lingarajapuram and Richmond town neighbourhoods of Bangalore. The company says that will assure customers a flat 20% off on MRP of any medicine that they order (with no upper limits).  Myra says that it is redesigning the pharmaceutical supply chain to remove layers of middlemen to offer discounts.

Unlike companies such as 1mg and Netmeds which aggregates medical shops in a neighbourhood and act as a marketplace, Myra buys medicines directly from manufacturers, stores and delivers the medicines from its warehouses located across the city. “This ensures better control on operations, superior margins and most importantly a smooth customer experience,” the company added in a statement.

Myra’s terms and conditions say that its “App is a technology platform that will allow you to access pharmacists who will be able to fulfil your order.” It adds that no sale of medicines is conducted on or by using the App. Instead, the sale is concluded between the user and the pharmacist.

Offline and online pharmacies

Myra’s terms and conditions are pertinent as online and offline pharmacies have been locking horns over the sale of medicine on the internet. Offline chemists say that their online counterparts are are doing business illegally and are in contravention of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940 which state that sale of medicine can be done only through a pharmacist. The also alleged that online pharmacies are supplying prescription and scheduled drugs without confirming the authenticity of prescription and patient. 

However, a number of online pharmacies companies have come together to form the Indian Internet Pharmacy Association (IIPA) advocating for rules and operations of online pharmacies. Its members include Bookmeds, mChemist, Medidart, Medlife, Medstar, Netmeds, Pharmeasy, (PM Health & Life Care), SaveOnMedicals, Savemymeds and 1mg. The online players say that they are merely acting as aggregators and that the sale is eventually done by a pharmacist.

Consultation on online pharmacies 

Last month, the government mooted the idea of an electronic platform for regulating the sale of medicines in India and began a public consultation. It called for an online platform for regulating the sale of drugs in India which will be maintained by an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The revenue model proposed for this portal involves a small transaction fee of not more than 1% of total cost of medicines, subject to a ceiling of Rs 200 per prescription, to be paid online by pharmacies/ e-pharmacies/ wholesale /retail distributions, etc.”.

For e-pharmacies, it added, “no sale by e-pharmacy shall be permitted to be carried out by any person or entity unless it has a licenced brick and mortar facility in each of the Licencing Authority’s jurisdiction.” Further details here.