Hailing from a family that has been in the pharmaceutical business for more than 100 years, it seemed natural progression for Pradeep Dadha, the CEO of Netmeds, to take the parent company Dadha Pharmaceutical to the online space. Keenly focused on technology-driven innovation, he was waiting for the right moment, which arrived as he says, “When I found people ordering vegetables like spinach and ladies finger online. That’s when I knew it was time to enter the e-pharma market.”
Netmeds, through its web portal and app offers close to 25,000 prescription drugs, over the counter (OTC) medicines and health products to customers in 400 cities across India. Customers upload their prescription (which is validated by Netmeds’ team of pharmacists) and place their order, which is delivered to them within 2-4 working days.
Dadha tells us that one of the main reasons he embarked on this venture was to make drugs for chronic and recurring ailments available to customers in small towns where they would struggle to find a certain drug or a generic alternative. He says, “There is a great opportunity in Tier 2, Tier 3 cities. About 55 per cent of our business comes from non-metros, while metro cities account for 45 per cent of sales. The demand on Netmeds for drugs catering to chronic diseases is about 20 per cent.”
Dadha remarks that the response to the online pharma has been “phenomenal,” as close to five lakh users have downloaded the app, which he says offers the convenience of ordering from anywhere in the world and delivering anywhere in India.
Asked about the legalities of selling drugs online, Dadha says, “Last week, the Additional Secretary for Health launched a whitepaper giving an overview of the pharmaceutical industry and the guidelines that should come into play. The government, as per the existing laws does not differentiate between online and offline sale of medicines. However, they will be putting in place certain specific rules that will help monitor the online sales of drugs in a better way.”
Netmeds has closed a funding round of US$ 50 million (about Rs 325 crore) in tranched financing, led by healthcare-centric investment firm OrbiMed, boutique investment bank MAPE and Dadha’s family investment fund. The portal has tied up with wellness firm Stepathlon, to create Medmemo, an automated pharmacy record management system that can be integrated with a corporate employee’s HR account to facilitate easy medical reimbursements.