E-commerce giant Amazon on Friday said it will launch an online drug store in India that will serve the city of Bengaluru initially, marking its entry into the online medicine segment to widen its reach in the key growth market.
The service, "Amazon Pharmacy", will offer both over-the-counter and prescription-based drugs, basic health devices and traditional Indian herbal medicines, the company said in a statement. Timeline for launch is yet to be announced.
"As a part of our commitment to fulfill the needs of customers, we are launching Amazon Pharmacy in Bengaluru allowing customers to order prescription-based medication in addition to over-the-counter medicines, basic health devices and Ayurveda medication from certified sellers. This is particularly relevant in present times as it will help customers meet their essential needs while staying safe at home," said an Amazon spokeperson.
The move comes amid increasing competition in India with rivals Walmart-owned Flipkart, Mukesh Ambani's online grocery service JioMart and other small players.
Regulations for online drug stores or e-pharmacies are yet to be finalized in India. However with the growth of several online sellers such as Medlife, NetMeds, Temasek-backed PharmEasy and Sequoia Capital-backed 1mg, the traditional drug stores remain threatened.
"Amazon's customer base is very high, so we are bound to lose business. There are 5 million families dependent on this (offline) trade," Yash Aggarwal, legal head of South Chemists and Distrubutors Association in New Delhi, said on Friday.
The organization will raise objections against Amazon's move with the government, he added.