- Amazon Pharmacy will be introduced in the southern tech hub city of Bangalore
- Online drug orders have blossomed during the pandemic in India
- Amazon initially entered the pharmaceutical retail business in 2017
U.S. online retail behemoth Amazon (AMZN) said it will launch a service in India where people can order pharmaceuticals over the internet.
Amazon Pharmacy will be introduced in the southern tech hub city of Bangalore and may be offered later in some other Indian cities.
The service will offer prescription, over-the-counter and even traditional Ayurveda medicines based on ancient Indian holistic treatments from certified sellers.
The company did not provide a specific launch date for the service.
“As a part of our commitment to fulfill the needs of customers, we are launching Amazon Pharmacy in Bangalore,” an Amazon India spokesperson said. “This is particularly relevant in present times as it will help customers meet their essential needs while staying safe at home.”
Amazon already offers online medicine sales in the U.S. and some European countries.
With more than 2.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in India, healthcare startups there have witnessed a spike in demand for online delivery services.
Amazon initially entered the pharmaceutical retail business in 2017 and purchased PillPack, a home delivery medications startup in the following year.
The Economic Times of India reported that Amazon will be competing directly with a host of local online drug sellers, including Medlife International, Netmeds.com and PharmEasy.
However, traditional pharmaceutical companies in India have complained that online services could potentially sell drugs without proper verification.
Online pharmacies would also pose a threat to established drug delivery businesses.
“Amazon’s customer base is very high, so we are bound to lose business,” said Yash Aggarwal, legal head of the South Chemists and Distributors Association in New Delhi, reported Economic Times.
Recently, the All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists, a trade group that represents more than 850,000 pharmacy outlets in India, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to ban e-pharmacies in the country.
Nonetheless, India’s online health industry is expected to become a $16 billion business by 2025, up from $1.2 billion currently, according research firm RedSeer Consulting.
Meanwhile, Amazon has been making various other forays into India.
In May, Amazon entered into the online food delivery business in India. Amazon has also received permission to deliver alcohol in the eastern province of West Bengal.
In January 2020, Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos made a highly publicized visit to India in which he pledged to invest billions of dollars in the country.
“We are investing to create a million new jobs here in India over the next five years,” Bezos said, adding to the 700,000 jobs Amazon said it has created in India since 2013.