Ecommerce major Amazon has launched its online prescription medicine delivery service ‘Amazon Pharmacy‘ starting in Bengaluru, at a time when the e-pharmacy sector in India is gearing up for a big wave of consolidation.
Amazon’s foray into home delivery of drugs comes on the back of Reliance Industries’ talks to acquire Chennai-based Netmeds, while other leading players PharmEasy and Medlife have also explored merger and acquisition negotiations.
Entrackr was the first to report the launch of Amazon Pharmacy last evening.
Amazon Pharmacy will allow customers to order prescription medicines, over-the-counter drugs, ayurvedic medication, as well as basic medical devices. A preliminary inspection of the service showed that bulk of the prescription drugs on Amazon were being sold by Cloudtail.
Cloudtail, apart from being the largest seller on Amazon India‘s marketplace, is a joint venture between Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures and the ecommerce giant. Amazon was forced to reduce its stake to 24% in Cloudtail’s parent after a change in regulations.
While prescription drugs are visible to users across Bengaluru on Amazon’s platforms, the service is still being ramped up, with purchases available only to a small number of users for now.
“As a part of our commitment to fulfill the needs of customers, 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. This is particularly relevant in present times as it will help customers meet their essential needs while staying safe at home,” Amazon said in a statement.
Amazon’s entry into the e-pharmacy sector comes at a time when demand for home delivery of medicines is at an all-time high due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as consumers choose to buy online from the safety of their homes. All major e-pharma players had reported major gains following the announcement of the lockdown in India.
Online drug ordering remains elevated according to analysts and industry insiders, making it a ripe time for players like Amazon, that have already built local supply chains, to get into the game.
This is the second big online sector Amazon is entering this year, after having launched its food delivery service ‘Amazon Food’ in May, servicing select localities in east Bengaluru. While the service hasn’t seemed to have grown over the past few months, Amazon has said that its foray into food ordering is not a pilot and will be expanded to other cities.