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Your Pill, A Click Away

Startup BIZ February 2019

Your Pill, A Click Away

YOUR PILL, A CLICK AWAY

PharmEasy makes sourcing medicines easy and efficient, through its online platform

By Rosy Jose K

Nisha and Arjun are the ideal couples, with successful careers in big-name IT firms in Bengaluru. They truly believe that it is their duty to take care of their aging parents just like they would their kids. Arjun’s parents live with them, whereas Nisha’s parents live in another flat in the same building. “Keeping track of their medicines is a full-time job,” laughs Nisha. Unfortunately, Bengaluru’s climate and pollution add to the existing health problems of the elderly as well as kids. Arjun’s mother is allergic to certain formulations, thus, at times, Arjun would run from store to store trying to get the correct medicine. In 2017, PharmEasy launched its operations in Bengaluru and provided people like Nisha and Arjun much-needed respite. They could now get medication delivered at their doorstep, with a 20 percent discount to boot. “The best part is they don’t have a minimum value order policy, so we can order just a bottle of paracetamol if needed. We can use our valuable time taking care of the kids rather than running around for medicines,” says Arjun.

YOUR PILL, A CLICK AWAY
Dr. Dhaval Shah, Co-founder, PharmEasy

PharmEasy—short for Pharmacy made Easy—is India’s largest online healthcare aggregator. The PharmEasy app has eased the process of ordering healthcare products (fitness and supplement, personal care), OTC products and prescribed medicines. Integrated within this app is also the facility to book health tests and packages from the convenience of one’s home. The user can avail medicines at a flat 20 percent discount and get up to 70 percent off on health tests. “I have to spend more than INR 500 per month for my wife’s medicines. But after ordering medicines through PharmEasy, we managed to save around INR 125 each time and it is quite a big relief to families like us in these days of high inflation,” says Sub Inspector of Police Shivaji Jagtap, who availed of this service during its pilot run in Mumbai. PharmEasy was launched in 2015 by two passionate entrepreneurs, Dharmil Sheth, an MBA from IMT Ghaziabad and Dr. Dhaval Shah, an MBBS from Rajiv Gandhi Medical College and an MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur. Their vision: to deliver genuine medicines at economical rates by optimizing the supply chain and logistics.

India has only 17 percent of the world population, but it accounts for 21 percent of the global disease burden. Pharmacies and diagnostics account for 43 percent and 6 percent respectively of the $110 billion Indian healthcare sector. The major challenge in the healthcare industry is that every service is fragmented. There was no online platform providing health care delivery services; the duo aimed to make healthcare products efficient, accessible and affordable to all. “Did you know spurious and expired drugs constitute almost 30 percent of medicine sales? We are doing our best to spread awareness amongst both people and regulators about this grave issue,” says Sheth. pharmacy started small, with five people working out of the spare office space that belonged to one of their parents. The first funding round of $5 million was used to test the market and build capabilities to serve seven locations. The second round of $16 million funding was used to improve the supply chain, technology, and customer outreach. The third round of funding will be used to build inventory and working capital for building a robust partner network across metro and Tier II cities. Today, the PharmEasy workforce is about 300 employees strong, and has a stable affiliate network system which delivers medicines to 20 lakh families annually in 1,000+ cities. Its diagnostic test service, however, is currently available only in a few cities.

“AS A POLICY, WE DELIVER MEDICINES ONLY AFTER ADEQUATE VERIFICATION OF THE PRESCRIPTION. THIS HAS IMMENSELY HELPED US IN REDUCING OUR RETURN ORDERS. ANOTHER ISSUE THIS POLICY SOLVES IS THE CASE OF SELF-MEDICATION, DRUG DEPENDENCY, AND DRUG ABUSE.”

Dr. Dhaval Shah, Co-founder, PharmEasy

PharmEasy offers free sample collection by experienced and authorised phlebotomists. The fact that the company has been growing over 200 percent year on year for the last three years is a testament about the validity of its business model. PharmEasy follows the concept of the hyper-local model of service delivery, which ensures adequate proximity to customers and seamless delivery. The users of the app simply need to upload a prescription to have their medicines delivered home the same day. “As a policy, we deliver medicines only after adequate verification of the prescription. This has immensely helped us in reducing our return orders. Another issue this policy solves is the case of self-medication, drug dependency, and drug abuse,” says Dr Shah. PharmEasy is all geared up to revolutionise the healthcare space by offering innovative services like Auto- Medicine reminders (to ensure that customers never miss their dosage), Monthly Refills (so that consumers don’t have to worry about running out of medicines), e-consultations, Medicine Guide (to know about medicine, its uses, side effects, cheaper substitutes and allied information), Easy Returns and Order Tracking. It is currently in the process of launching special discounts (almost 40 percent) for expensive cancer and AIDS medications. PharmEasy is also constructing a feedback loop for pharmaceutical companies, enabling them to make better drugs. As part of its future plans, PharmEasy aims to integrate personalized and interactive features along with building capabilities to serve not only tier 1 and tier 2 cities but towns and villages across the country.

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