Medical inflation in India is expected to rise by 10 percent in 2018-2019, according to the recent Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) Medical Trends Around the World report.
This means the cost of your medicines will rise by eight to 10 percent.
On the other hand, the Indian government is enacting a law that will link medicine prices in this country to the Wholesale Price Index (WPI).
Over the last four years, India’s WPI shows a downward trends, which means medicine will cost lower if the law is enforced.
Understanding Online Pharmacies
Broadly, online pharmacies are same as brick-and-mortar medicine stores. You can buy medicines on providing valid prescription.
Physical and online pharmacies also sell a wide range of non-prescription or Over-The-Counter (OTC) drugs such as painkillers, vitamins, antacids, purgatives, anti-histamines and birth control pills.
Their product offerings also includes food supplements and other items that are not categorized as ‘pharmaceutical preparations’ such as baby foods, diapers, sanitary napkins, disinfectants, deodorants and many others.
Regardless of whether prices slide downwards or shoot up, you can always buy medicines online with a discount from the below online pharmacies.
Top 10 Best Websites and Apps to Buy Medicines Online
Medlife is India's largest and best website to buy medicines online.
It operates as an online pharmacy and healthcare services provider through its website and app that can be downloaded from Google Play for Android-powered smartphones and iTunes for iPhones.
The company offers excellent discounts for ordering medicines through their app and website.
It provides guaranteed and timely delivery of medicines across India.
Further, Medlife also runs a healthcare blog on its website that provides important information on nutrition and healthy living, how to cope with various ailments and chronic medical conditions.
You can buy Allopathic and herbal or Ayurvedic medicines on Medlife.
If you need to consult a doctor urgently, Medlife makes it possible through the app and website.
They charge only Rs.150 for the first telephonic consultation with an experienced physician.
You can also talk with specialists in various medical fields about a medical condition to get your concerns addressed.
1mg ranks among top online pharmacies in India. Their website offers complete range of healthcare services.
At 1mg, you can buy Allopathic, Ayurvedic and traditional herbal as well as Homeopathic medicines at discounted rates.
1mg has been operating as online pharmacy and healthcare services provide since 2012. The company ranks among pioneers of India’s online pharmacy industry.
At 1mg You can buy medicines online with discounts. Extra rebates are available when you look for specific products.
While prescriptions are required for specific medicines, you can also buy OTC preparations without one.
The company sells a wide range of healthcare products including baby food, women’s requirements and medical devices online.
1mg is a very reliable online pharmacy that delivers medicines across India.
Practo is a great online pharmacy and much more. You can order medicines online at Practo.
Similar to other online pharmacies, you need to upload the prescription if ordering for medicines recommended by your physician.
However, you can select the quantities of medicines to last for a longer period or to take on travel. Buying medicines online on Practo is very simple.
You simply need to key in the brands of medicines. The website will display various options. Upon selecting the right ones, you can proceed to check-out and pay.
But what makes Practo different is their range of services. You can search for doctors, clinics, hospitals and other healthcare services.
Practo offers the unique facility of online consultation with doctors as well as scheduling appointments or admissions at hospitals.
Their services are also available for Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Brazil.
Netmeds.com calls itself ‘India Ki Pharmacy’.
It is promoted by Dadha & Co, a company that has been operating brick-and-mortar pharmacies and medical distribution in India for over 100 years.
Netmeds operates through a network of pharmacies owned or associated with the parent company.
This online pharmacy also sells generic variants of prescription medicines, which cost significantly lower.
If you are short on cash and need to get medicines urgently, go for Netmeds.
You can buy and send medicines from any corner of the country or even abroad, through Netmeds.
This online pharmacy has the entire range of prescription and OTC medicines on its list.
Additionally, you can also buy nutritional and other healthcare products from Netmeds.
This online pharmacy is helping residents of rural India, especially in remote corners of the country to get latest medicines and very affordable prices.
Another topmost e-pharmacies of India is MedPlusMart. It was launched in 2006 in Hyderabad.
MedPlusMart provides delivery in more than 300 cities across India. This online pharmacy operates through more than 1,500 in the country.
MedPlusMart is the second largest pharmacy chain in the country. The company claims to offer a seamless and impeccable shopping experience.
MedPlusMart also operates a customer loyalty program called FlexiRewards. Registering for this loyalty program is simple and free.
Every time you shop online at MedplusMart, you earn points. For every Rs.1,000 spent, you get 150 points which is equal to Rs.100.
These points can be redeemed for discount on future purchases or for free stuff.
Collecting points for two years entitles you to free shopping or discount worth Rs.350.
PharmEasy can be easily ranked as India's most favourite online medical store and pharmacy website.
You would definitely be acquainted with the brand.
Their advertisements appear on almost every Indian TV channel after the government announced it will regulate online pharmacies and accord them legal status.
PharmEasy was established nearly three years ago and claims to serve more than two million customers across India.
They offer between 20 percent select medicines bought online.
Additionally, PharmEasy also offers various healthcare related services online such as appointments at diagnostic centers, a home collection of samples, free online consultation with doctors and lots more, all at highly discounted rates.
They also have a service where you can get automatic reminders for refills of your prescription medicines.
The company stores your prescription records to ensure you do not have to waste time on getting fresh ones.
PharmEasy delivers medicines and other products to over 1,000 cities in India and over 22,000 post codes.
Patanjali Avurved runs an online pharmacy that sells Ayurvedic preparations from its herbal medicines division, Diyva Pharmacy.
You can buy a wide range of Churna, Vati, Gulika, Guggul, Kadha and other herbal medicine products from this online portal.
Patanjali Ayurved delivers to all parts of the country, including far flung and remote villages.
This website is unique because you can buy several high quality Ayurvedic medicines at almost half the price of other leading brands.
Recently, Patanjali Ayurved has launched the ‘Swadeshi Samriddhi’ customer loyalty card, available for one-off payment of Rs.100.
This card entitles holders to discounts of 10 percent on all purchases of Ayurvedic medicines and Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) products manufactured by the company.
This card also entitles the customer to free ‘Swadeshi Nishtha Sahyog’ accident coverage up to Rs.500,000 that will be paid to the nominee in case of death or up to Rs.250,000 for permanent disability.
The rider being, the customer should have bought minimum Rs.6,000 worth medicines or FMCG goods from Patanjali Ayurved portal during the last six months.
The card also covers military, para-military and police personnel killed in action fall victim to terrorist acts or while combating terrorists.
Apollo Pharmacy is the most trusted brand of online pharmacies of India.
It is operated by Apollo Hospitals, a leader in India’s healthcare sector and runs eponymous hospitals, diagnostic centers, training institutes as well as brick-and-mortar pharmacies across India and some parts of Asia.
You can buy almost every medicine online from Apollo Pharmacy.
Upload a copy of your prescription and make the online payment to get your medicines.
Apollo Pharmacy offers two options: They will deliver medicines to your address or you can pick them up at their nearest branch.
Healthkart is an online pharmacy that does not deal in prescription medicines or pharmaceuticals required for severe medical conditions.
Instead, Healthkart specializes in nutritional supplements required for maintaining overall good health.
You can buy all types of nutritional products made by Indian and foreign manufacturers, including protein supplements for fitness aficionados, Omega-3 oil preparations for those worried about cardiac health and antioxidants, among others.
Additionally, Healthkart also supplies Ayurvedic medicines from top Indian companies for chronic conditions including diabetes, cardiac care, reduced immunity, bone and joint care, skincare and others.
Healthkart also operates through smartphone based apps.
The company offers a free consultation with fitness trainers for those who wish to lose weight or gain muscles.
Healthkart offers excellent discounts to online shoppers and comes up with special schemes frequently as part of its customer loyalty initiatives.
Genericwala is an online pharmacy with a difference. You can buy excellent and genuine generic version of branded medicines for fraction of cost of branded ones from this website.
This helps you save lots of money while undergoing treatment for chronic medical conditions and yet get proper medication.
You can upload and store prescriptions for timely delivery of generic medicines to treat your medical condition.
This website operates in a very simple manner. Just key in the name of the prescribed medicine and Genericwala will display generic products.
The medicine is the same, except, it is sold without a brand which means lower taxes and other charges.
You can place and order for these medicines for doorstep delivery or pick them up at their associate pharmacies across India.
Genericwala website also provides information about medicines and their side effects.
Medical Shockers of India
Shockingly, one out of every seven medicines sold in India is a fake, a 2016 study conducted by World Health Organization revealed.
This figure is said to be three times larger than those suspected by the Indian government.
Between four and five percent of all medicines sold in India are substandard and useless for medical treatment says, Central Drug Standards Control Organization (CDSCO), the regulatory authority for pharmaceuticals in India.
The WHO report also found that Indians bear 52.8 percent cost of medicines from their own pockets.
In August 2018, Indians spent a combined US$1.69billion on medicines, indicating a growth of 8.7percent on year-on-year basis.
Considering WHO findings that one in seven medicines sold are spurious and CDSCO’s findings that four to five percent pharmaceuticals sold in India are substandard.
you need to be extra vigilant while buying medicines, whether to treat common ailments or chronic medical conditions.
The blame for supplying substandard or spurious medicines falls on both, online as well as brick-and-mortar pharmacies in India.
Some of them inadvertently fall prey to stocking substandard or fake medicines and supply them to customers. Others engage in wanton cheating.
What Does This mean?
Simply put, it means, you have to be extra cautious while buying medicines from online pharmacies. Or, even brick-and-mortar pharmacies for that matter.
Some online pharmacies in India source their medicines from local associate stores to ensure swift delivery while maintaining low rates.
Often, local suppliers may deliver a spurious medicine to your doorstep even after you have paid price for the original one.
While most online pharmacies adopt sufficient measures to prevent sale and delivery of fake or substandard medicines, they have little or no control on activities of their associates located different parts of the country.
Hence, you have to choose the right online pharmacy to order your medicines. Understandably, there is no way that you would know whether a medicine sold by brick-and-mortar pharmacy is genuine or fake. The same holds true while buying medicines from online pharmacy.
The Indian government, alarmed at this phenomenon, is thus enacting a law to regulate online pharmacies while combating the fake and substandard drug menace.
Laws for Online Pharmacies
Currently, there are no specific laws to govern online pharmacies.
In September 2018, the Indian government issued a draft bill that would legalize online pharmacies in the country and bring them under the ambit of law.
Once the bill is enacted, millions of Indians will be able to buy affordable medicines online.
The draft law also stipulates that only reputed organizations will be able to establish online pharmacies and sell genuine drugs.
Violators will be liable to very stiff penalties that would include long jail terms and heavy cash fines.
However, laws for online pharmacies in India may take some time given the opposition from trade unions of brick-and-mortar pharmacies that fear they will lose business.
Since online pharmacies will offer cheaper medicines, owners of physical pharmacies are worried there will be severe imbalance in their retail prices.
On September 28, 2018, thousands of medical stores across India remained closed to protest the government’s moves to regulate online pharmacies.
Understandably, you would wish to save money on buying medicines. More so, if you or a family member are afflicted with chronic health problem that requires sustained and prolonged medication.
An entire family’s financial wellbeing can be thrown off gear if a member suffers from chronic disease and needs expensive medicines.
Saving money becomes very important since a lot of medicines are pricey. Buying from online pharmacies is a great way to save money on medicines.
But ensure you buy medicines only from topmost online pharmacies in India.