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Exclusive: Amazon launches online pharmacy service in Bengaluru

E-commerce major Amazon has forayed into the online medicine segment with the launch of Amazon Pharmacy. This move could potentially redirect online medicine orders to Amazon even as the sector is populated with the likes of NetMeds, 1mg, PharmEasy and Medlife. 

Amazon Pharmacy offers home medical supplies & equipment, healthcare packages, prescription medication, and healthcare devices, among others. The service is currently available across Bengaluru. 

Amazon has confirmed the development to Entrackr over email.

“We are launching Amazon Pharmacy in Bangalore allowing customers to order prescription-based medication in addition to over-the-counter medicines, basic health devices and Ayurveda medication from certified sellers,” said the Amazon India’s spokesperson.“This is particularly relevant in present times as it will help customers meet their essential needs while staying safe at home.” 

As per Entrackr sources, the service is also available in Howrah and some select cities of West Bengal and is likely to expand its operations across the country soon. 

This is the second major launch by Amazon in India. The company forayed into the online food ordering segment in May, but it hasn’t scaled up to other cities. Sources say that even in Bengaluru, Amazon is operational on a limited scale.

Covid-19 that has disrupted the food delivery business appears to have put a temporary brake on the company’s food delivery aspirations.

Amazon’s foray into e-pharmacy comes at a time when the role of e-pharmacies has grown significantly due to Covid-19. During the first phase of lockdown, online pharmacy apps come to the people’s rescue for procuring essential medicines.

Over the past few months, there has been much action in e-pharmacy space. Reliance is on the verge of completing the acquisition of Netmeds for a deal worth $80-100 million. NetMeds and PharmEasy have also been in talks to merge. According to sources, the discussions of the merger have progressed into an advanced stage.

1mg was also in conversation to be acquired by PharmEasy.

While the online pharmacy space is estimated to be a $55 billion worth segment by the end of this year, the sector has been facing regulations that can stifle their growth. 

Last year, the Health Ministry revised draft regulation asking e-pharmacies to partner with offline retail pharmacies only to deliver drugs to consumers and not stock medicines. Many online pharmacies have been opposing the revised draft as it affects their margin and increases dependencies on local pharmacists.

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