The trend of online pharmacy in Pakistan is increasing. These platforms have also started gaining the trust of their consumers by providing authentic medication and health care equipment and on-time delivery service. Online pharmacy simply is a convenient internet-based vendor of medicines as well as the healthcare products; however, there are legitimate (authentic pharmacies) along with the illegitimate pharmacies that do not provide active medicines or scam people.
According to the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination, Government of Pakistan, strict actions are formed for the unauthentic online pharmacy platforms.
According to the official sources of Global E-pharmacy market, it is forecasted that the market size will increase with an annual growth rate of 16.81% in between 2020 to 2025.
Independent ways as platforms that are based on the internet like the online branches of already existing physical, brick-and-mortar pharmacies as well as the sites that represent the partnership among the pharmacies that fall under the concern on online pharmacies are now available.
Online Pharmacies contributing to the E-Commerce Industry of Pakistan
In this contemporary period, like the current time, the economy has already observed a major like a drastic surge in the e-commerce industry that includes the online shopping; however, this includes the sale or purchase of any item online that also comprises the prescribed and non-prescribed medicines in the country.
Online Google Search for the products regarding the COVID-19 has increased up to 200% on e-pharmacies, according to the global e-pharmacy market report.
The number of orders has been increased worldwide during the lockdowns due to coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 lockdown has boosted the e-commerce industry of Pakistan also especially the online pharmacies sales.
Online sales of these medicines have also been increasing tremendously across the world, like also in Pakistan, for more than a decade. Moreover, the number of online pharmacies is increasing worldwide as well as in Pakistan. The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan has shown major concerns regarding the online supply of medicines: the inspection and quality assurance of medicines available at online pharmacy.
Moreover, it is stated by the official documents that all the medicines must be certified as well as verified by the registered and authentic pharmacist before delivery.
Detailed View of Online Pharmacies
For the shipping of medicines, many courier services are in collaboration with the online pharmacies, and the official deliveries by the online sites themselves are also made within the given delivery time frame.
Rules are regulations are followed for all the pharmacies, either online or the physical one for importing or exporting medicines. Delivering medicines without a prescription is a big question mark on the online pharmacy’s authenticity as they are not allowed to take the order without the prescription.
Selling any medicine to a minor person (under age 18) or selling any banned drugs, or selling any medicine at a higher cost than the maximum retail price is also prohibited.
Additional requirements regarding the overall privacy of the data, diligence to the cyber laws, the data for protection and all the internet advertisement are also required also to be complied by the pharmacies as in order to maintain data security.
Why are these Online Pharmacies gaining Popularity?
Online pharmacies usually offer better discounts as well as pricing that is less than offline stores as with increased access while lower transaction and the product costs are also low. It also provides convenience and anonymity for the consumers.
Discounts, as well as the doorstep delivery convenience, have made online pharmacies popular as the deliveries are made within a short span of the time. However, the validation of the prescription is also checked through licensed pharmacists. All the relevant info related to substitutes and the adverse effects are also available on the sites, along with the major precautions.
Consumer’s Perspective regarding Online Pharmacies
Consumers usually have a perception that the medicines which they get from any of online pharmacies are also comparable as to the medicines that are sold as in the physical pharmacies. So they are usually satisfied by the authentic sites that they are receiving the right and active medicine.
These online consultants are also usually available on the online medical sites that help the consumers to get the answer to their queries regarding any medication. The detailed physical evaluation is done by the doctor after the visit, but now the online consultation from doctors is also available on the online pharmacy or other platforms that the consumers also recommend after a satisfactory evaluation.
Role of Online Pharmacies
The evaluation by the doctor for any disease is considered necessary, like before providing any treatment. It perhaps promotes self-medication. Online pharmacies usually specify the side effects and precaution along with each medicine that the consumer must read before the purchase of any medicine.
Meanwhile, after the detailed discussion, it is highlighted that the online pharmacies could be mentioned as a boon for consumers as these acquired a proper system and follows the rules and regulations provided by the Healthcare Authority of Pakistan. The scope of these all services that are mainly offered by online pharmacies are not only limited to Pakistan alone. However, the Alliance for the Safe Online Pharmacies or a nonprofit organization also focuses on raising the awareness of the consumers about these platforms.
Buyers across the nation can obtain the prescribed drugs such as antidepressants, antihypertensives, antianxiety medications, medical pregnancy kits, sildenafil citrate containing products and weight loss pills, along with other prescribed medicines etc.
Consumers seeking the medicines overseas must have the authority from the health care authorities for the delivery of medicines.
A proper check and balance are formed for the online pharmacies. Fake online pharmacy platforms or counterfeit products could be a major threat to life. However, a proper inspection is made to avoid any negligence by these sites. Any expiry or non-active medicine is not allowed to be sold; if so, then serious actions are to be taken by the Government of Pakistan against that pharmacy. Lack of monitoring also encourages fraudulent practices like the delivery of incorrect dosages or generic variants when the physician has prescribed a specific brand name.
Awareness among consumers is the key to stay protected from any fraudulent practices. Consumers also need to be educated and must have knowledge about verification or the authenticity of their service provider and also the product in order to avoid the counterfeit sites that sell the drugs without any legal prescription.
Authentic online pharmacies platforms have a well-defined system of safety and set the quality benchmarks with the security policies & the uncomplicated privacy where a verifiable physical address, as well as the licensed pharmacist, is on a roll.
According to the official sources, consumers must be well aware of the prices of the medicines in order to stay protected in terms of been charged with higher prices than the actual cost. However, mutual sense of awareness of these online purchases of medication by all patients is necessary just for good management of the patient and in order to avoid any harmful consequences during self-medication.