Reliance Industries Ltd of India has bought a majority stake for 6.2 billion rupees ($83 million) in online pharmacy Netmeds. For the country’s fast-expanding online drug market, Reliance has to tackle Amazon.com in the competition. Reliance said that the company will have a 60% stake in Netmeds. Both over-the-counter medication and more than 70,000 prescriptions drugs are sold by Netmeds.
Reliance now comes in the middle of the increasing competition in India’s e-commerce sector which includes Walmart’s Flipkart and a range of smaller players, as it also follows Amazon’s move last week to start online drug sales in Bengaluru. In recent months by selling stakes in its digital arm, Jio Platforms, Reliance has raised more than $20 billion. In a sector that is estimated to grow to 250 billion rupees by 2022 according to consultancy Frost & Sullivan, Netmeds gives Reliance a grip.
However, many Indian trader groups feeling threatened due to the growth of e-pharmacies. They say that online drugstores can unintentionally contribute to medicine sales without proper verification, and that the entry of large players can result in unemployment in the industry.
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