India is in its second week of the ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown and although the central government has promised easy availability of essential commodities such as food, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment through retail stores and e-commerce platforms, the public at large seems to be facing difficulty in finding them particularly medicines, according to a recent survey.
As per a survey conducted by community engagement platform LocalCircles, “the situation, however, has improved in the local markets while the ePharmacy apps according to consumers are still struggling to deliver.”
The survey claims that as much as 77 per cent of the respondents were able to find most medicines at their local chemist shops while only 15 per cent respondents said they were able to get the medicines though ePharmacy apps.
The company conducted a two-poll survey which received 16,829 responses from consumers located in 165 districts of the country. The survey was to check their experience of buying medicines in the last seven days from either a retail store or from an online pharmacy.
As per the survey, 36 per cent of the respondents were able to get every medicine easily when they tried to purchase medicines from a local chemist in the last one week, while 41 per cent said they got most of the items. Around 18 per cent respondents said they were able to get only some of the items while 5 per cent were not able to get most of the items. (see the chart below)
According to LocalCircles, some chemists have reported the issues faced in getting supplies from the distributors and wholesalers but the situation has slowly improved over the last one week. The report also said that some medicine distributors have indicated that the supply chain is well stocked and they do not anticipate any shortages in the coming weeks barring unusual events.
Coming to the ePharmacy platforms, the LocalCircles survey showed that as much as 85 per cent of respondents were unable to receive medicines through online channels, which forced them to look out for local chemist shops to buy medicines.
Barely 3 per cent respondents said they could get everything easily though online pharmacies while 12 per cent said they could get most items except a few. Apart from them, 11 per cent respondents could get only some items as the apps were stocked out and 33 per cent said they could not get most of the items. As many as 41 per cent respondents were not able to get anything, the survey said. (see the graph below)
The report stated that e-commerce companies selling medicines such as 1MG, Pharm Easy, NetMeds etc. reported a spike of 100 to 200 per cent in demand when the lockdown was announced. However, they were unable to deliver the orders due to restrictions put in place by the government.
Such companies had earlier reported their inability to deliver shipments as trucks carrying stocks as well as the delivery agents were restricted by the police, even when medicines were labelled under ‘essential goods’.
This apart, the survey added that some online pharmacies take orders but promise a delivery time of 20-30 days, while some also cancel orders close to the delivery date.
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