MedLife, a Bengaluru-based online pharmacy, is planning to invest $30 million over the next one year to scale up its business. The self-funded company will raise money from the founders’ capacities as shareholders, as well as from their family trust, as reported by VCCircle.
The company plans an aggressive expansion across India with the new injection of cash and plans to expand its operations across 100 cities, including tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Currently, MedLife operates in 34 cities, out which it serves 19 directly. The rest are run through partnerships. The founders also hope to expand the business from delivery of drugs to related spheres like diagnostics and e-consultation. They also plan to set up their own laboratories from the next year.
MedLife said it receives 10,000 prescriptions while completing 4,000 deliveries a day. It is well on its way to complete a gross revenue of Rs 300 crore for the financial year of 2017-2018.
Note that online pharmacies are still not regulated entities in India. Last March, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in March proposed an electronic/online platform for regulating the sale of medicines in India, and had initiated a public consultation. This came after offline pharmacy owners and retailers had called for a nationwide bandh to protest the regularizing sale of medicines through Internet in November last year. They had alleged that online pharmacies are doing business illegally and are in contravention of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940.
However, many online pharmacies operate under as marketplaces and intermediary liability will apply to these companies. Intermediary liability means that the marketplace isn’t held accountable for what is sold on it, because they’re just a marketplace, not the vendor. This is called a safe harbour. If the intermediary knows what is being sold, they’re liable.
“As far as the medicines are concerned, the pharmacist in the store dispenses them according to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and they are the final decision maker. Of course we would be liable if we are showing wrong information or misleading consumers,” 1mg Founder Prashant Tandon explained to MediaNama.
MedLife’s biggest competition is from 1MG, which raised $15 million in series C funding from HBM Healthcare, apart from existing investors Sequoia Capital and Maverick and Kae Capital contributing as well.
Another competitor is PharmEasy, which received $17 million in a series B funding from various investors- Bessemer VenturePartners, Orios Venture Partners, and Aarin Capital, to name a few.
Myra, another Bengaluru-based epharmacy company, raised $7 million from Matrix Partners and Times Internet to expand their growth.