The online shopping option has definitely added a much-needed avenue to meet not only emergencies, but regular demand for such services
The pandemic has altered our lives and consumer behaviour patterns in many ways. Before the pandemic only a handful of people would order medicine online or even knew of the existence of such services.
“The consumer approach towards e-commerce platforms has changed drastically in the last one and a half years due to the pandemic,” said MD Alamin Shuvo, co-founder and managing director of OshudhWala.com. “Sales have increased around 5% compared to the sale before the pandemic and it was around 100% during the pandemic,” he mentioned. Since its inception in 2019, the online pharmacy has planned to open three to five hubs to deliver the medicines within two hours.
The online shopping option has definitely added a much-needed avenue to meet not only emergencies, but regular demand for such services, especially for the elderly, critical and chronic patients.
Farzan Ajam, a Cox’s Bazar based development worker, is responsible for taking care of his elderly parents who have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease. “Due to my job, it is often not possible for me to meet the emergency needs of buying medicines. At such a crucial time I had to rely on either other relatives (which is quite difficult) before knowing about such services,” said Farzan.
Lazz Pharma, one of the biggest pharmacies in the country has been providing online service for almost four years, also observed a rise in sales on their e-commerce platform since the pandemic began. “Our sale was worth around Tk4 lakhs before the pandemic, but now the amount has reached upto Tk7 lakhs,” said Mohammad Hasan Raju, online in charge of Lazz Pharma.
According to the IMS Health Care Report, the local market size of the sector was about Tk25,000 crore ($3 billion) in 2019. In 2012, it stood at about Tk9,390 and in 2017 it hit Tk18,755.6 crore. No authentic data was found about the market size of online medicine service despite the demand among people for the service and the expansion of the market.
Mohammad Shahabuddin Shipon, vice president of e-CAB believes the online medicine service has great potential in the local market. “I want to also acknowledge that expanding the business in the country would be difficult due to its high compliance maintenance such as licence from Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA), medicine preservation etc. There is a demand for such service but then again I want to address the fact that controlling and monitoring is difficult,” he said, pointing out the easy access to online business rather than offline stores.
When it comes to selling medicine both online and offline it is required to meet many criteria such as medicine originality, expiry date,licenced pharmacists and so on. People think twice before since it's directly connected to their wellbeing. “Increase of people’s knowledge, dependency, comfort of such service as well as presence of credible and well known pharmacies in the online market has definitely contributed to the market growing so rapidly,” said Md Rasel Ali, operations head of Amar Pharma.
“There are certain medications that cannot be sold without prescription according to the drug authority guidelines and we maintain it strictly,” said the online in charge of Lazz Pharma.
Most of the online pharmacies have websites and apps with the facilities of uploading prescriptions on the app. Many receive the prescription through social media platforms and other communication apps such as whatsapp.
Here is a list of pharmacies, which are providing the medicine service through using e-commerce.
Founded on 2019, OshudhWala.com promise to provide original medicine within a short possible time. The online medicine pharmacy delivers particular medicine that requires special cold storage. To maintain the quality of such medicine, they deliver in their special delivery box. the delivery duration is two to eight hours inside Dhaka city for tk50 delivery charge. The e-commerce pharmaceutical venture has a special feature called “Shasthyo Kothon” in which patient can consult a doctor free in emergency health need. Also, doctor consultation is available at cos tk50 by taking appointment through their app. It is also the official medicine delivery partner of Doctime and Pulse healthcare services.
Amar Pharma has both online and physical stores in Dhaka. Though they provide medicine service through their online shop all over the country, the majority of their customers are from Dhaka . The pharmacy has collaboration with evaly, foodpanda, Daraz. “Delivery on time and meeting the emergency needs of the customer are the most prominent challenges. We have observed that delivery cost is more than actual costing of the product” said Rasel Ali, operation head of the pharmacy. He further mentioned prioritizing emergency service to fulfill the emergency needs of medicine for their customers. It has a wide range of categories such as prescription medicine, over the counter medicine, mother and children care products and other health and wellness products.
Banglameds, considered as one of the first online pharmacies in Bangladesh, provides home delivery of prescription and OTC drugs around the country. It delivers medicines within one to three hours. They take orders till 7 pm for same day delivery. The delivery may take two days to reach the end customer since it is delivered through courier service. An additional Tk100 is required for the courier. BanglaMed doesn’t have any minimum order value system. Having a delivery charge of Tk30, the customer has to order medicines worth or above Tk200 to avail the service. The order can be placed through their website, app, social media platform or over the phone. Cash on delivery is available for the customer inside Dhaka. Apart from medicine, this online store has a wide range of products including diabetic kits and accessories, hygiene products, baby and mother care products, surgical items etc.
Osud.com, a physical pharmacy in Dhanmondi is another platform that provides online medicine service. They have direct links to pharmaceutical suppliers for medicine and other health care products. The pharmacy shop delivers medicine all over the country but the delivery duration depends mostly on the order location. Within Dhanmondi, the delivery cost is Tk40 and any other location inside the city costs Tk75. “If the order is within Dhanmondi, it takes less time than the order from the Basabo area,” said one of the shop attendees. The closing time to take a new order is 9pm. This online pharmacy also has no minimum order value system. “Having no order limit is definitely helpful. I occasionally forget to bring my medicine to the office. It becomes difficult for me to purchase medicine in an emergency during office time,” said Ahsanullah, a customer.
With the aim of providing a convenient and safe experience in buying medicine online, ePharma provides a wide range of medicine along with other healthcare products including wellness products, vitamins, diet/fitness supplements, herbal products, baby and mother care products, beauty care products, surgical supplies etc. Since its inception in 2016, the organisation has observed gradual progress in terms of the numbers of customers over the years. However, the number has seen a sharp rise during the pandemic. “The main challenge during COVID-19 crisis is meeting the customers emergency requirement of a certain medicine,” said a spokesperson of ePharma. Though epharma doesn’t take urgent orders, they try their best to serve while a patient is in emergency need of medicine such as corona or diabetic patients. To avail of the home delivery service, one has to order for a minimum tk300 and the order must be placed before 12pm to get the medicine on the same day. Considering traffic jams in Dhaka city and adverse weather such as rain, it is not possible to promise any fixed timeline.
Khidmat Drug outlet
The local online medicine shop provides delivery service at your doorsteps all over Bangladesh. The prescription has to be sent via their Facebook page to place an order. Telemedicine and diagnostic home service are few other services provided by Khidmat Drug outlet
DPharma by Daraz, Lazz Pharma and Dhaka Pharma, are few other prominent names that provide medicine service through e-commerce platforms. Praava Health commonly known for its health care services both online and offline also offer medicine service. Pharmacy either online or offline should be restricted on selling medicines without prescriptions to avoid the abuse of drugs.