Bengaluru: The easy availability of drugs and medicines online and that too at a discount has virtually sounded a death knell for neighbourhood medical shops.
Those who sell online drugs and healthcare products seem to be muscling out the traditional drug stores, and the store owners are deeply worried. Moreover the fact that drugs sales through internet is unregulated has raised health and safety concerns.
www.medplusmart.com <http://www.medplusmart.com/> , www.netmeds.com <http://www.netmeds.com/> , www.medzstore.com <http://www.medzstore.com/> ,www.apollopharmacy.in <http://www.apollopharmacy.in/> , zigy.com <http://zigy.com/> , www.buydrug.in <http://www.buydrug.in/> , www.meramedicare.com <http://www.meramedicare.com/> and www.medplusindia.com <http://www.medplusindia.com/> seem to be doing well, and are even offering huge discounts.
NetMeds for instance, offers 20% to first buyers, a flat 10% discount on prescription drugs with no minimum order value. Another site buydrug.in <http://www.buydrug.in/> even sells using WhatsApp and short messaging service (SMS).
This has forced the neighbourhood stores to go in for discounts which, they claim, they can barely afford.
Mohan, owner of Pawan Medicals in Horamavu, says, “First of all websites provide wrong and misleading information. Secondly we don’t give medicines without prescriptions, but there is no way to control drug sales on the Internet.”
Mohan also says that business has gotten tougher for pharmacists. “It is very difficult for us. With the massive discounts websites are offering it is extremely hard for us to stay competitive.”
Adding that he was considering a career change, Mohan says, “Our business has been hit very badly by online sellers. I’m thinking of shutting my shop and joining a job with a daily wage.”
Muniraju, north zone convener for Bruhat Bengaluru Chemists’ and Druggists’ Association and owner of Renuka Medicals complains, “These so-called medicine websites are eating into our business.”
He adds that these websites are offering up to 20% discounts to customers and also delivering medicines home, which is affecting the pharmacy business.
“These websites are offering huge discounts to potential customers. In our case the margin is 17-18%. It is very hard for us to compete with websites. There are 8000-plus pharmacists in the city… what are we going to do?” asks Muniraju....