Consumers okay buying medicines from e-chemists

An industry body has reported that 61 per cent of people it had surveyed were okay buying medicines online.

Hyderabad: An industry body has reported that 61 per cent of people it had surveyed were okay buying medicines online, showing a shift in consumer trends. The survey was conducted by the Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic Fundamentals, a market research firm, and the consumer initiative, Consumer Online Foundation. The study covered 4,600 respondents across eight cities.

Eighty-eight per cent of the respondents were men, 37 per cent were in the age-group of 35 to 45 years and 13 per cent in the 55-70 age group. Ninety per cent of the respondents showed an inclination towards e-pharmacy but wanted the government to strengthen laws to prevent misuse. Dr B.K. Shravan of a pharmacy retail store said, “The online medicine stores are booking orders online. The Drugs and Cosmetics Act does not allow delivery at the consumer’s doorsteps. So there is a need to change the law if the online pharmacies have to succeed.”

The survey also revealed that 46 per cent of the responds purchased medicines once a month and 37 per cent once in 15 days. It was found that 39 per cent of the respondents spent '1,000 to '2,500 per month on medicines and 22 per cent Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000. Consumer activist B. Misra, said, “We have to weigh between the need of the people and existing laws. There is a need for changes to be made in the existing Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Only after that can the online pharmacies be alternatives.”

According to the survey, 67 per cent of the respondents found a difference in the price of medicines at different outlets; 48 per cent said they had to go to multiple pharmacies. The survey said 67 per cent complained that when the branded medicines were not available they were given alternative medicines, which they were not willing to buy.

e-pharma model cuts cost but needs clarity:

The E-pharmacy Association of India has alleged that lack of transparency and sale of medicines without a valid prescription or bills are some of the offences offline pharmacies have been allowed to get away with. Dharmil Sheth, member of an e-pharmacy, said, “The e-pharmacy provides transparency, easy accessibility and delivery to the doorstep. If a patient gets 20 per cent discount on his medicines, that is fine.”

Dr Eswara Reddy, another member, said, “There is a lot of misunderstanding about the e-pharmacy model. It will link the customer to a network of pharmacies. The customer base will be broader and there will be a lot of added value.” The problem area, a consumer activist said, lay in the sale of drugs to consumers who are either abusers or are into self-medication.

Mr Benoj Mishra, consumer activist, said, “The Drugs and Cosmetics Act is poorly implemented. Offline too, we find dubious sales. With e-pharmacies, whether this problem will increase or decrease, only time will tell. What is good for consumers is the choice and affordability. If the drugs are cheaper, why should the consumers not go for them?

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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