(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc on Friday launched an online pharmacy in India to serve the southern city of Bengaluru, the latest move by the e-commerce giant to widen its reach in a key growth market.
The service, Amazon Pharmacy, has begun and will soon offer deliveries across the city, Amazon said. It offers both over-the-counter and prescription-based drugs as well as basic health devices and traditional Indian herbal medicines.
The move comes amid increasing competition in India with rivals Walmart-owned Flipkart, billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s upstart online grocery service JioMart and a range of other smaller players.
Amazon had last month decided to open 10 new warehouses in India and start offering auto insurance. It had also secured clearance for alcohol delivery in the Indian state of West Bengal, Reuters reported in June.
India is yet to finalize regulations for online drug sales, or e-pharmacies, but the growth of online sellers such as Medlife, Netmeds, Temasek-backed PharmEasy and Sequoia Capital-backed 1mg has threatened traditional drug stores.
The companies have said they comply with all Indian laws even as many trader groups continue to protest against e-pharmacies, saying it would lead to sale of medicines without proper verification.
“Amazon’s customer base is very high, so we are bound to lose business. There are 5 million families dependent on this (offline) trade,” Yash Aggarwal, legal head of South Chemists and Distributors Association in New Delhi, said on Friday.
The group will raise objections against Amazon’s move with the government, he said.
(Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru and Sankalp Phartiyal and Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing by Arun Koyyur)