The Business of Pharmacy in India

The word Pharmacy refers to drug store or chemists.

From wikipedia,

Pharmacy is the health profession that links the health sciences with the chemical sciences and it is charged with ensuring the safe and effective use of pharmaceutical drugs.

I had a big respect with pharmacists because they are the ones who knows what medicine, that the doctor has prescribed. He / she can also provide the alternative medicine from the different company.

the most common drug i take is Dolo 650 or Crocin Cold & Flu generally. Otherwise, if i get serious diseases like chronic bronchitis, i need to take medicine as prescribed by the doctor. Based on the chemicals needed by my body, doctor prescribes it.

Recent days i have bad experiences with the pharmacy in many parts of the country most notably in Chennai and Bhopal. My doctor had prescribed few number of drugs  in combination in order to tackle the bronchitis. I had taken the prescription to two of the big pharmacy in Bhopal. One provided the medicine for almost all drugs except one. with the other one i had the following conversation.

Bala (B): Do you have this medicine? Rest of  them i have bought near my doctor house.

Pharmacists (P): if you have bought all from them, go get this medicine from there. why did you come here?

B: ????? (stunned on getting this response) what’s your problem? i would have bought it if its available. This particular is not available there. Hence came here.

P: if you want to buy all, then you can get it. other wise, we wont give you the medicines.

B: (end of conversation and came back without purchasing. Frustrated. F..k!)

Some pharmacists would simply say “Drug not available” even though if it is available. This is the bad state in which Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical industry operates. This is not one simple case.

Right from childhood, we trust our doctors. Next person ….? is our pharmacists. some times we directly go to our pharmacists for drugs. I think those good old days have gone. Now its all about Money! Money! Money!

Another incident which you can replicate with your pharmacy nearby. doctor will prescribe only  for e.g 6 vitamin tablets. but the tablets comes as a strip i.e 10 tablets.  You will definitely hear this conversation like i have heard.

B: Do you have these tablets? just this one? for six days as prescribed by doctor.

P:  sir, it comes as a 10 table strip. we can’t give you six.

B: But doctor prescribed only 6

P: yes sir. doctor will prescribe like that. people won’t buy just 4 tablets. also these tablets won’t sell after.

B: what will i do with extra tablets?

P: these are (vitamin) tablets. it wont harm if you have it more.

B: (Frustrated by the responses and went to another pharmacy.) !!!

Now, again the same conversation and ended up buying 10 tablet strip which costs 104 INR whereas i should have spent only 60 INR as prescribed by the doctor.

I started to think about the business around Pharmacy! Before going into it, we would see these most popular chained pharmacy in the Chennai city.

  • Apollo Pharmacy
  • Muthu Pharmacy
  • Himalaya Herbal Healthcare
  • Kerala Ayurveda Pharmacy
  • Lifeken Medicines
Like this, there are many more in various cities in India. You would see one nearby and wherever you go, they follow. It is called Branding i guess. the thing is we prefer branded shops because we believe they provide quality drugs. For e.g. Apollo Pharmacy because of Apollo Hospitals.
Apart from selling drugs, they also sell Beauty care products, Health care devices and many more of the products they brand.

Lets see about Pharmaceutical industry in India.

The Pharmaceutical industry in India is the world’s third-largest in terms of volume and stands 14th in terms of value. Its going to touch USD 50 Billion by 2020 in India

It can touch USD 100 Billion in India if all pharmacists sell any drug for e.g. Dolo 650 or Crocin in a strip rather than 1 or 2. Soon we will face this type of situation.

The Good or Bad? :

The Indian pharmaceutical industry directly employs around 500,000 people and is highly fragmented. While there are around 270 large R&D based pharmaceutical companies in India, including multinationals, government-owned and private companies, there are also around 5,600 smaller licensed generics manufacturers, although in reality only around 3,000 companies are involved in pharmaceutical production. Most small firms do not have their own production facilities, but operate using the spare capacity of other drug manufacturers.

Opportunities for B.Pharm graduates and a small request:

May be after graduating B.Pharm or necessary degree,  you can be a small business owner i.e Start your own Pharmacy. The business will never go down. One thing i request you to keep in mind.

Provide people the prescribed tablets rather than overdose. Help people cure their illness. In this way, you will get repeated business and Good names.

What’s your take? Did you experience the same bad from your nearby Pharmacy? Add it in the comments.