Is there a Future for Online Pharmacies?
Every year Internet turnover increase by approximately 30%, and one of the most dynamic areas is online trade. Online trade with medicines, on the one hand, seems to be quite a promising business, but, on the other hand, is questioned by predominant number of buyers. To carry out state control over online pharmacies is difficult, therefore, in spite of effective for 6 years law, banning sales of medicines via the Internet with their delivery to buyer at home, making Internet network a reliable place to buy drugs is not yet possible.
Currently, the share of pharmaceutical online business in total pharmacy sales is about 0,9%. Moreover, annually pharmacy Internet-retail increases by almost a half, while growth in pharmacy sector is only 12 – 15%. This confirms assumption that in the near future, sales share of pharmaceutical online business can catch up with other areas of Internet-retail.
According to Canadian Health&Care Mall experts, cost of promoting any online pharmacy is significantly higher than normal, but income from it turns out larger. Main costs of online pharmacies are programmers, call center staff and couriers. As a rule, delivery is paid by customers, and this amount goes to payment for courier services. However, the vast majority of large orders is delivered free of charge, which is also direct cost of the pharmacy.
To save money on renting premises for online pharmacy is not always possible. The fact is that it still needs a warehouse to store medicines. Rent for such premises may be different depending on location of the warehouse. However, if he is too far away, delivery of products will be difficult, and hence, savings on rent would still be minimal.
Types of Online Pharmacies
Currently, there are several varieties of online Canadian pharmacies. Relatively legitimate pharmacies are usually created on some pre-existing medical base, for example, conventional pharmacy or medical-themed site, which decided to monetize its available traffic by selling medicines.
As an effective example Canadian Health&Care Mall – can be used. It provides users with articles about health and latest news. This site gives also opportunity to buy a variety of medications.
There are companies that use other ways of drugs trade through Internet network. For example, some companies are implementing new federal system project that provides search and reservation of drugs. To this project today more than a thousand pharmacies has joined. Drug delivery system is not provided: the customer must take them himself in customer pick up service.
The most common way of organizing drug sales via Internet network is to arrange online orders in regular pharmacy. Many drugstore chains develop such directions, but even within the same network you can find different prices for the same drugs. Prices, discounts and mark-ups are constantly changing, which depends only on decision of individual pharmacies directors.
Pharmacies themselves do not consider this illegal business management. Delivery of drugs is carried out by courier, which acts as intermediary between customer and pharmacy. That is, it is believed that buyer orders products not in a pharmacy, but at a courier who buys medicines and brings them to the client.
Top list of best online pharmacies today have already made up, all of them have stable activity, despite existence of significant gaps in current legislation. However, even leaders of the top ten are gradually losing their ground. The share of classical online pharmacies in Canada selling drugs count about a quarter of the total number of pharmacies in the Internet. There is also a number of pharmacies of the third type – those who do not have their own facilities of offline sales and, accordingly, may not be recognized as legitimate regardless of chosen form of sale and delivery. Obtaining license for sale of medicinal products can only be possible in case of availability of a particular legal address, so these online pharmacies are sure not to have license.
Fight Against «Illegal Immigrants»
Last year, police managed to close 80 pharmacy websites, illegally implementing medications. The main difficulty in dealing with similar websites is need to prove that there is no business license to sell medicines and their websites do not constitute a ground for receiving online orders of most ordinary pharmacy.
By applying great effort, it is still impossible to completely clear Internet network of such websites. As soon as one website is closed, a clone with a different name immediately appears. These are Canadian online pharmacies which operate without requiring any scripts, that is they sell any drug to anyone who wishes, which can be dangerous for people not knowing what they are buying.
If a pharmacy does not make any offline sales, then it may be rejected to place its website in the Internet.
Fight against illegal online pharmacies is conducted in all countries. For example, in the UK pharmacy online market is constantly checked, test purchases are made, quality of medicines is tested. The most common drugs, subjected to falsification, are medicines to fight obesity, depression, erectile dysfunction (Viagra, Levitra, Cialis). Obviously, for fight against illegal retail activity police and legal prohibitions are not enough, also cooperation of controlling bodies with usual customers is required.
Allowed to Forbid, or Foreign Experience
Today attitude towards drugs online trading in various in different European countries. In Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and some other countries, such activities are considered to be legal. In Finland, Ireland, Belgium online sale of drugs fall under the ban. This disagreement in legislations lead to the fact that such sales are considered rather allowed than prohibited activity.
In France, previously banned Internet trade with medicines was authorized in 2013. At the same time strict rules of this business have been introduced:
- Only pharmacies, performing offline selling drugs, can create websites for realization of medicines.
- Only OTC drugs can be sold in online pharmacies (no prior prescription is necessary).
- To run such a website it is necessary to obtain permission from regional health agency that keeps records of all websites.
Today anyone can find a list of registered online pharmacies in the region on the website of Ministry of Health of France. For example, in Paris and its surrounding areas as much as 11 such online pharmacy are functioning.
Likewise Internet sales of drugs circuit in the US is constructed. In addition to list of legitimate online pharmacies, FDA website posts materials, warning citizens against illegal shopping in pharmacies and describing consequences of such risks.