- Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries’ (RIL) reported acquisition of Chennai-based Netmeds is bringing consodilation in e-pharmacy.
It seems that a wave of consolidation is passing over the country’s telemedicine space, prompted with billionaire Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries’ (RIL) reported acquisition of Chennai-based Netmeds as part of its broader play in the e-commerce industry, with investors from overseas also queuing up to aid the online pharmacy startups in the fast-growing sector.
Netmeds, which began operations in 2015, has so far announced three rounds of financing totaling about $100 million. The firm was founded by Pradeep Dadha, whose family was one of Sun Pharmaceuticals’ first distributors. Sun Pharma later purchased a distribution company. The Netmeds supporters include healthcare investor OrbiMed, investment firm MAPE Advisory, Sistema Asia Fund, and the Daun Penh Cambodia Group headquartered in Singapore, in addition to Dadha’s family office.
RIL is yet to be confirmed contract for around $120 million with Netmeds.
According to the reports, Reliance shares opened at Rs 2.017 and later hit an intraday high of Rs 2.167, up 7.89 percent from the earlier closing of Rs 2.008.45 on BSE. After 2 days of consecutive fall, RIL stock has gained. The share price of RIL is 2.2 percent off an all-time high of Rs 2,198.7.
The RIL share price is higher than the moving averages of 20, 50, 100, and 200 days but below the moving averages of 5 days.
Inspired by the move, Mumbai-based PharmEasy – backed by Temasek, CDPQ and Orios Venture Partners – was able to acquire its Bengaluru-based rival Medlife in a $120-150 million stock transaction, sources said.
According to a study by EY last year, India’s e-pharma players are projected to cross a combined market size of $2.7 billion by 2023 from about $360 million currently.
The main drivers of growth for the e-pharma industry have been an increase in internet penetration and possession of smartphones, along with the ease of ordering medicines via an e-commerce website, an increase in chronic diseases, a rise in per capita income and the subsequent healthcare spending.
Nevertheless, the industry continues to be beset by legal problems, in the absence of a strong regulatory structure from the policymakers in India.
The delay in notifying the draft rules on pharmacy has continued to cause concern among industry participants, as well as investors who have pumped into the sector in millions. Industry groups that claim to serve brick-and-mortar players offline, have accused online pharmacies of mutating demand and leading to the country’s high drug price.