Reliance, Amazon set to clash on e-pharmacy

Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), through its biotechnology subsidiary, Reliance Life Sciences, is already in the process of setting up pathology labs through local partnerships.

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Last Updated on August 17, 2020 by The Health Master

E-pharmacies are set to become the next big arena of battle with billionaires Jeff Bezos and Mukesh Ambani diversifying into this segment, hoping to exploit a fast-growing market fuelled by a large base of smartphone users.

While Amazon India launched ‘Amazon Pharmacy’ in Bengaluru last week and will conduct pilots in other cities, Reliance Retail—through its SMART Point outlets—plans to scale up its grocery and pharmacy platforms. Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), through its biotechnology subsidiary, Reliance Life Sciences, is already in the process of setting up pathology labs through local partnerships.

“E-pharmacies is a large market and the retail segment is a fragmented one. However, the market is now ripe for consolidation; thus, large retailers like Amazon and Reliance are keen on this market,” said the CEO of an Indian e-pharmacy firm, on condition of anonymity. He said more retailers are waiting to join the sector amid government focus on healthcare and schemes like Ayushman Bharat, and National Digital Health Mission.

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‘Amazon Pharmacy’ will offer both over-the-counter and prescription-based drugs, basic health devices and traditional Indian herbal medicines, Amazon said in a statement, without giving a timeline for the launch. Meanwhile, RIL said in its March quarter analyst presentation that “retail will scale up rapidly led by new commerce and pharmacy platform”.

E-pharmacies such as Medlife, Netmeds, Temasek-backed PharmEasy and Sequoia Capital-backed 1mg are online platforms where consumers can buy medicines. These companies have also been working on integrating telemedicine and diagnostics facilities on their platforms.

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