E-pharma companies rise up to the challenge posed by Covid-19

As India goes into lock-down in a bid to check the spread of Coronavirus across the country, certain services have been kept out of the purview of the lock-down, which includes e-commerce. Given the unprecedented demand for medicines, disinfectants, masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and all essential ‘germ killers’, which have almost disappeared from the pharmacy stores, people are turning to e-commerce platforms to order these commodities, as well groceries and other household items. 

Not surprisingly, online pharma companies have been witnessing a spike in sales as people are turning to them for stocking up on essential medicines and household cleaners and accessories. 

In order to understand how e-pharmacies are gearing up to operate in times of Covid-19, Adgully spoke to PharmEasy and Medlife. 

Spike in orders 

Aamit Khanna, Corporate Communications, PharmEasy, admitted that in the beginning of the outbreak, some shortage of stocks was seen as API mostly comes from China, post which the Indian Government and the industry partners took the right measures to bring the situation under control. He informed that India is one of the largest markets for hypertension and diabetes drugs and stocks huge amounts medicines, which will support the customers in the coming months till the situation is under control. 

“We are experiencing high volumes of orders each day, but it isn’t part of panic buying. It is purely due to the convenience factor. We maintain proper hygiene and caution,” Khanna assured. 

Pradeep Dadha, Founder and CEO, Netmeds.com said, “As a healthcare company, we too are in the forefront of the battle against coronavirus, and we are working hard to ensure that customers get uninterrupted supply of protective and preventive products, which are much needed during this stage of containment. The country has seen an unprecedented upsurge of over 1,400 per cent in sanitation products, and over 500 per cent in disinfectants in the last two weeks alone. We have ensured that Netmeds.com has adequate stocks of hand sanitizer at government approved rates as per the directive issued by the Centre. This will be extremely beneficial for lakhs of people who were being forced to pay a premium for the product by some opportunistic retailers.”

A Medlife spokesperson, too, said that they are currently witnessing a spike in sales, with website traffic rising organically by as much as 50 per cent and more, with a large number of people opting to order medicines online. He added, “Unsurprisingly, demand for masks and sanitizers has at least doubled as orders increased between 100 per cent and 140 per cent. An offshoot effect of the Coronavirus outbreak has been a rise in demand for natural immunity boosters, such as Vitamin C natural supplements and mixed seeds, as consumers begin to appreciate the benefits of having a good immunity given the current situation.” 

Medlife is geared to provide easy access to medical/ pharmaceutical requirements across the country during these difficult times. For this reason, the e-pharmacy has capped a limit on the quantity a consumer can order, such as 10 for masks and 5 for sanitizers. 

With more and more people downloading the app, the orders have gone up. “We largely cater to patients with long-term illness or critical illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. Yes, some orders also of OTC with hand sanitizers and masks, which have skyrocketed,” said PharmEasy’s Khanna. 

On the other hand, the Medlife spokesperson said, “Our vision has always been to provide as many people with easy access to our end-to-end healthcare offerings from the comfort of their homes. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has not altered this vision in anyway, but has pushed us to augment our services, being the largest e-health enterprise in the country. While online medicine delivery service is our main pillar, other services like consultation services and home diagnostics have also seen a spike. With more and more people opting to stay indoors, we are ensuring that they do not forego their necessary diagnostics tests by sending our phlebotomists to their doorsteps.” 

Despite the increase in traffic and spike in orders, one hasn’t seen too much communication being done by the e-pharmacies. As Khanna told Adgully, “The sentiment isn’t right, so we are not doing any promotions as of now.” At the same time, he informed that PharmEasy has dedicated a hotline to help people get complete information about Covid-19. “Our doctors give free advice to our customers. We keep sending out myth busters from time to time. We keep our customers updated and ensure that there is no panic in the current situation,” he added. 

Medlife has a team of in-house doctors, who help in creating videos debunking myths about the Coronavirus in a bid to stem the spread of misinformation about the pandemic that is seen across various social media platforms. “We believe our end-to-end healthcare offerings work well during challenging times and also create ground for social distancing, an important step in the direction of fighting the spread of the virus,” the Medlife spokesperson said.


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