Home / Companies / Start-ups /  Ola in talks to invest in Myra Medicines, may even buy it

Bengaluru: Cab-hailing platform Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) is in talks to invest in or acquire medicine delivery startup Myra Medicines, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans. Driven by their common investor Matrix Partners, the deal is expected to close by the end of this month, said one of the people cited above, requesting anonymity.

If this deal goes through, it will mark Ola’s entry into the burgeoning online medicine delivery sector as the company’s main cab-hailing business is experiencing a slowdown.

The Bengaluru-based company has also been trying to build its food delivery business, having acquired Foodpanda about a year ago.

“This is part of Ola’s strategy where they want to get into all kinds of deliveries," said the second person cited above. “It will also help bail out Myra Medicines, which has been struggling in the highly competitive medicine delivery space."

Ola and Myra didn’t respond to emailed queries seeking comment.

Apart from its core cab-hailing business and Foodpanda, Ola has a payments business called Ola Money. It also bought public transportation app Ridlr last year for an undisclosed amount. Ola recently agreed to infuse $100 million in scooter-sharing startup Vogo.

“Ola wanting to deliver medicines is a natural progression for them after their acquisition of Foodpanda," said Satish Meena, a senior forecast analyst at Forrester Research. “This is their way to utilise the existing food-delivery fleet which can be used to deliver medicines as well."

E-commerce giants, such as Flipkart and Amazon India, as well as food delivery platform Swiggy and online grocery startup BigBasket have also been tinkering with the idea of diversifying their offerings by planning a foray into the medicine delivery space (read more).

The e-pharmacy market was estimated to be around $210 million at the end of 2018, according to consulting firm RedSeer Consulting. The online medicine delivery market is currently dominated by the likes of PharmEasy, Netmeds and 1mg—all three of which have been raising large sums of money.

Myra Medicines, founded in 2013 by Faizan Aziz and Anirudh Coontoor, is relatively smaller. The online medicine delivery market is currently facing regulatory uncertainty. Last year, the government released draft rules for e-pharmacies and the final rules were likely to be out by the end of December.

However, the Delhi high court barred online sale of drugs and prescribed medicines in December.

“Currently, medicines are not being delivered in Delhi," said an analyst, requesting anonymity. “There is a strong lobby working against the sale of medicines online but things should get sorted this year."

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