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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Is it advisable & safe to buy medicines from online pharmacy websites?

    I would like to have a general discussion on this topic rather than asking it as a query in the Ask Expert section.

    I have been prescribed eye drops and the price is pretty steep at Rs.313/-. At somebody's suggestion, I looked it up online and saw one pharmacy site offering it for Rs.286/-. Another site said 20% discount for that day only would be given on all medicines (I know that's a gimmick to force a purchase!) but it was unclear whether the discount would apply to the eye drops.

    I am reluctant to buy medicines online as I am worried, firstly, about in what conditions the medicines would have been stored at the source from where the portal is getting them. Secondly, I would like to know if, in addition to the prescription being asked for, are any identity proofs/age proof also required to be scanned & uploaded? Thirdly, since online there is no mention of the Mfg. date and Exp.date, if I am sent a product which is, say, of last year, I would not want to use it. I would prefer to use if the date is of a few months earlier only and ensure, too, of course, that its expiry date is much ahead. So if I get an old product, it will be a headache to have it returned and get a refund/replacement, especially since I need to use the drops soon with the previous bottle nearly finished.

    I would prefer to buy the eye drops from a local pharmacy where I am getting it for Rs.297/- rather than online, but would still like the views of others on purchasing medicines online. Have any of you bought medicines online? Please share your experiences based on the three queries/concerns I have raised. If you have used the online route, could you let me know if these were generic medicines or specialized ones? (note - no need to give the specific names or health reason as I do not wish to invade your privacy)
  • #641520
    Buying stuff from online like clothing, electronics, footwear, and other necessary stuff is not a problem. But when it comes to online pharmacy apps and websites, they can't be trusted. As an instance, I recently ordered a Tripod and Green Screen background. When the product got dispachted to my postal address, the tripod stand was not parallel. I received the tripod in BENDED condition. Along with this, online apps and websites shows the original price of that tripod as Rupees 2800 but discount of 45%.

    Buying things online is a good option for us to order products sitting home but we don't the consequences if something goes wrong. Leave a side about those stuffs but Health is Wealth and we cannot put our health and life to jeopardy by ordering medicines online which you yourself felt vague about the original price and discount offers.

    It is better to expend 100 more Rupees offline on Pharmacies than to order medicines online. Who knows whether the medicines might be extremely hazardous and you consume it thinking that there is no problem at all. Not all online stores are scam and fishy. But it is not recommended to buy medicines online.

    I would never do that even if it offers 95% discount.

    Hackers never learns but always wins!

  • #641529
    The online purchasing has facilitated us for an access to the seller's world. But we can't deny of the fact that there might be the possibility of lack of genuineness of the product. I being in the online business for quite some time have evident of such activities. In any online businesses, before dispatches, the items are checked with the orders of the customers. If in certain aspects these are not matched up than this could even be manipulated in some way. In terms of medicines, suppose the item is found to be expired than perhaps the dates would be scratched so that actual date can't be seen. This could be the case too.

    We are just talking of the possibilities & therefore anything is possible. On precaution side, I still would like to opt for the nearby retailers & even the familiar one so as not to get suspicious of the thing.

  • #641532
    Generally, the doctors will prescribe the medicine by the name of a product made by a particular company. When we go to a medical shop sometimes the Pharmacist there will say that they have the same combination but the name of the product is different. In such case, we will go by the suggestion of the doctor again.
    So when we want to purchase medicines online we can do that provided the online seller gives the same product without any difference in name. Once we receive we should see the expiry date and then if it is OK we can use that. These days the generic shops are selling many medicines and the costs are very less when compared to the other shop prices. You can try there also. Best is to purchase in the generic medical shop. If it is not available you can go for online purchase. Many of the medical shops, these days, are giving 10 to 20% rebate on the medicines.

    drrao
    always confident

  • #641538
    Online medicine purchasing is picking up in our country also but is not very popular as people are not much aware of it.

    The online stores are also getting their medicines from the same distributor as the normal shops are getting. As they do not have a shop set up they can afford to give discount to the customer.

    The other reason for discount is that to make it popular they are operating at low margins.

    So getting a reputed brand medicine from online stores is not an issue. There is practically no problem.

    Only thing is if by mistake you get an expired or broken ampule or bottle or tablet, you should return it immediately.

    Another suggestion is take the delivery of the medicines in front of the delivery boy. Open it and check the expiry dates and the brand names.

    Your doctor will tell you which particular brand you should go for though all of them will have the same chemical contents.

    For the same medicine the different brands have different prices as companies say that they have costlier manufacturing facilities or cleaner premises or more quality control etc.

    Your doctor will be the right person to advise you a good brand.

    Knowledge is power.

  • #641542
    Last month I received a message on mobile that buy medicines and get a discount upto 70% on MRP. I have been buying medicines at 10% discount from my local chemist so a discount upto 70% on MRP was a big surprise for me. I thought of giving it a try. I uploaded the prescription, got a call from the company, told them the quantity and enquired about the MRP of the medicines (thinking they might have jacked up the MRP to offer such a huge discount) & the discount. The executive told me that I will get 35% cash discount, another 30% as e-cash which I can use on their site on my next purchase and another 10% (maximum 125 INR) if I pay using Paytm.

    I placed an order worth roughly 2000 INR. I didn't pay any cash and told them it would be a COD order. After that I received a call from a Doctor to verify few things. After verification, I received a call from the company to verify the quantity. They didn't have a particular medicine, so they offered me a subsitute. I refused the subsitute.

    I received my medicines after four days, I opened the packet checked the medicines' quantity, brand, expiry date and MRP. I found everything in order. The medicines were geniune. Made the paymet of around Rs 1300 using Paytm. Rs 125 were credited to my Paytm account within 24 hours. So, practically I got 40% discount on MRP, even if I do not consider the 600 INR plus e-cash as compared to the 10% my local chemist gives me.

    Those medicines are supplements. So, I don't see any harm in buying them online. Those discounts were for first time users only. Now the same company is offering only 20% discount to me. I got a few more similar messages from other companies too, but could not get time to place an order to verify their claims.

    In your case it is an eye drop and you are going to be benfited by just Rs 27. It is a risky preposition, as it is a matter of your eye. Taking a risk for just Rs 27 is not worth it at all. Moreover, you cannot wait for 3-4 days for medicine to arrive.

    My take on buying medicines online is that if one is taking supplements, which are to be taken for a long time, and which are costly (which they generally are) then one should place a huge order first time, say, buy the supplements for 3 months in one go and get a huge discount. If one needs medicines for some infection or pain etc, then one should not buy medicines online because one cannot wait for 3-4 days for medicines as the condition may deteriorate by that time.

    When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new!

  • #641544
    Umesh,

    Those online pharmacies are not physical stores. They are just like other e-commerce portals. They just have a website, an APP and an office. They have tied up with the local chemists or distributors. The distributor gives around 18% discount on MRP to local chemists. These online pharmacies take that 18% discount on MRP from the distributors and offer the rest of discounts from their own pockets to the first-time buyers. Some chemists have also joined these online pharmacies. They are giving 10-15% discounts to these online pharmacies. These online pharmacies are just trying to build up a customers/patients base.

    When they have sizeable customer base, they may reduce the discounts or they may buy medicines directly from the manufacturers to get more discounts. At some later stage, when they are established, they may sell their company to someone, like Flipkart (though still a loss making company) was sold to Walmart. It is a viable business preposition, I think.

    When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new!

  • #641546
    The main difference between online purchase of medicines from purchase of other consumer items is the health risk if the products sent are spurious. Other than that the risks are same as we have with other online purchases.
    The online portals do not have control on the quality of the medicines. They can take care of other factors from order, despatch to delivery.

    In cases of medicine like eye drops etc if the medicine is not genuine, if it is duplicate or spurious then the danger is much. The same risk is there when we purchase from the local medical store also. But then the accountability is there readily available. Penal action can be easier. The doctor and the medical shop will e there to do the needful in remedy also.

    But if the online shops are reputed and established and the users have good experience then online purchase of medicine also can be done without any extra risk, as they would have developed systems and practices to filter the sellers and avoid possible cheaters.

    I have made online purchase of Ayurvedic medicines,external application ointments and creams, and general OTC medicines. I have also purchased online from medicine manufacturer also.

    But I will also suggest you to by from the "Jan Oushadhi" stores where you get the generic brands at very low prices. You may do so with the concurrence of your doctor.

    Start buying such medicines which are not very essential, which may not create side effects on variance of potency and those to be applied externally. Then forming your opinion from experience you can decide on buying the essential medicines from them.

  • #641549
    I do agree with the author that some times we get confused whether to buy certain things on line or through the virtual shopping. In this case what I feel that , virtual shopping is the best for special and costly medicines. And being a eye drop, we cannot chance upon online cheap medicine, which may not be good quality. Normally they offer good discount to attract the customers , but we are not sure about the brand, quality and the expiry date of the medicine. If we buy in virtual shopping, we are assured of the brand, the right pricing and also medicine within expiry period. Moreover once ordered online we cannot return back.
    K Mohan
    'Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum "
    Even this challenging situation would ease

  • #641552
    I think, so far none of the responders here has understood the concept properly. These online pharmacies do not ship the medicines on their own. They have tied up with chemists & distributors. They send the orders to the chemists & distributors and they inturn ship the order. The medicnes come with a proper GST invoice with batch number and date of expiry. So, the issue of expired medicines does not arise at all. Secondly, there is no question of spurious medicines at all since they are coming with a GST invoice with batch numbers. Thirdly, if those online pharmacies do not have a particular brand in stock, they do not send subsitutes on their own. They will ask you first and if you agree, then only they will send the subsitute medicine. Moreover, you can always return the medicine if you are not comfortable with the medicine.

    Buyimg medicines online is just like buying medidines from your local chemist. The only thing is whether you can wait for the medicine to arrive and is the extra discount worth waiting?

    When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new!

  • #641553
    Gypsy I think online marketing is done directly with the manufacturers of the products and not through the intermediaries. That is why they can give hefty discounts.
    K Mohan
    'Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum "
    Even this challenging situation would ease

  • #641555
    Mohan,

    You are highly mistaken! People like you & me are sellers on all e-commerce portals. These e-commerce portals are just facilitators and have just a website, an APP and an office for backend teams. Of course, they have deep pockets too.

    When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new!

  • #641563
    People tend to get worried about the ingridents, fake medicines, expiry dates when ordering online. To me the same issues can and will happen when we buy it from our medical shop in person.


    I think it is the mindset and a sense of well being that yes, I have bought these medicines personally and hence the chances of it being fake is less. When we consider the entire industry, then issues mentioned above should not matter because the doctor writing the medicines, the pharmacisit given us the medicine in hand cannot assure that their products are not fake when compared to online firms.

    There are some expensive medicines available with a product code tracker that is supposed to track the medication from the production batch to the final sale point. If this is available, we can check this.

    To me online pharmacy is a big boom and soon the medical shops also will follow with similar discounts ( not 50% but at least 30% because, they have to also stay in business). Both would make a bigger profit margin on some medicines and brands which would even out on the average.

    What the Government needs to do is accept the fact that online medicine selling sites will multiply, so have a stringent regulation policy and guidelines so that the consumers can use it more safely.

  • #641564
    If your website has a "10-day replacement" or other refund and replacement offers then I don't see a problem in buying online drugs. But this is an issue. People can take online drugs unprescribed. I'm currently unaware of the website you used for purchase so I can't go into an analysis. I would rather go to a local pharmacist too for following reasons:
    1. I get a forty percent discount with my dealer.
    2. I get a drug recommendation from him in case the prescribed drug is rare or out of reach for some reason.
    3. Don't online purchasing take time? I just want my medication right now. So buying it from a local dealer is the best way.
    4. As you said there is always a possibility of getting expired material. Or a damaged packaging which the delivery guy feigns ignorance of. But I don't think online sellers would dare such foulplay because to be on an online marketing platform is big and it would adversely affect even their real time business.
    5. This could be a stupid reason but I can ask my pharmacist doubts like,"how and when do I apply my drug?"

    I don't really think you need to go online for medicine. Well for non-chronic medicines at least. I think an eye-drop being a very sought after product will be found at every drug store. So don't really purchase it from online like you originally intended.

    The stronger a light shines the darker are the shadows around it.

  • #641565
    Aditya,

    40% discount for every medicine? I don't think it is possible.

    When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new!

  • #641568
    I have not purchased medicines online but the pharmacy shops like Appolo, Medplus are giving 10 to 15% discount with in their shops. Along with it if we buy through Apps like Phone pe Rs.50 for minimum of rs.100 we buy in Appolo pharmacy and rs. 30 in Medplus pharmacy. If you buy with Phone pe App like that you get the said medicine around Rs.230. Phone pe is giving this offer twice in a month in each of the above pharmacies.

  • #641574
    Gypsy #641544,
    You are very right that these online stores are just sitting on a powerful software in a small office and just laisoning the sales between the big distributors and consumer through their portals.

    Probably due to their bulk purchases from the distributor or manufacturer, they are able to give good discounts to the customer.

    To lure the customers they are giving more discount on the first occasion and many times they are even giving some e-cash to the customer which can be adjusted against the future purchases.

    Uber, Flipkart, Grofers, Snapdeal etc are operating on similar lines.

    Knowledge is power.

  • #641578
    Mr.Umesh, adding on, these places do not have huge overheads like the physical medical shop in a good locality, the rent, the maintenance, the electric bills etc. All they need is a good simple but efficient supply chain form both ends.

  • #641600
    deleted
    I love chocolates and ice creams!

  • #641764
    An update - I bought the eyedrops from a pharmacy shop for Rs.290/-. Incidentally, it was not available at the first two shops where I asked for it, including one attached to a hospital where I went twice to purchase it. When I remarked on this to my Doctor, she said likely it was not in demand at the hospital so perhaps that is why they did not keep a large stock of it.

    I would like to thank everyone for this very useful discussion. The input given was insightful and informative. We will keep this thread open for the 10-day duration since more feedback may come in from other members, too. I would also like a clarification on the 40% discount which Aditya said he got.

    Neeraj - The prescribed eye drops is for Glaucoma. I am touched by the additional caring note at the end. Thank you.

    When people come at you with their worst, you should come at them with your best (advice given to Selena Gomez by her mother, quoted in Time magazine.)


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