India’s home grown e-commerce major Flipkart has said that it is not seeking any investment plans in the Mumbai based online pharmacy startup PharmEasy. The clarification has come after a report in Times of India (TOI) on Tuesday claimed that the Walmart owned company is holding strategic discussions with PharmEasy for exploring partnership and funding opportunity.
Refuting the TOI report, Rajneesh Kumar, Chief Corporate Affairs Flipkart Group, said “Flipkart would like to clarify that the company is currently not looking at an investment in PharmEasy. As a company we speak with businesses across a wide spectrum to understand the business environment, consumer trends and understand synergies. These discussions should not be constructed to be an intention of partnership or investment.”
A closer look at the above statement reveals that Flipkart doesn’t intend to infuse any funds in the Mumbai based startup. But at the same time it does hint that some discussions have taken place between the two companies.
TOI’s report specifically claims that Flipkart’s CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy has held several discussions with PharmEasy’s founding team for exploring strategic partnership between the two companies.
With Flipkart’s great rival Amazon foraying into e-pharmacy barely 48 hours back, grapevines and sources close to Flipkart claimed that India’s homegrown e-commerce major may soon follow the suit.
These speculations do make sense given the steady growth of India’s online pharmacy market over the years. Flipkart may not want to give a miss to potentially lucrative market especially with e-commerce sector witnessing ruthless competition in the wake of JioMart’s entry. Reliance industries reported talks to acquire Chennai headquartered startup NetMeds may have also pushed the Walmart owned company to give a serious afterthought on entering e-pharmacy market.
Although India’s digital pharmacy market is indeed lucrative, analysts claim that the sector is behest with lot of regulatory issues.
Currently, the online pharmacy startups are lobbying hard with the Indian government to expedite the framing of the e-pharmacy draft rules. The ePharmacy draft rules seek to frame sector-specific rules & regulations for India’s online pharmacy industry. However, the issuing of notifying e-pharmacy draft rules has been pending for months and FICCI has recently claimed that the delay is causing anxiety among stakeholders engaged in the digital health ecosystem.
Currently, India’s nascent E-pharmacy industry is regulated by IT Act and Drugs & Cosmetics Act (D&C Act). Experts claim that there is a need to harmonize these acts into a singe dedicated act that would regulate E-pharmacy activities across the country.