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E-pharmacies look at bulk vaccine deals

The e-pharmacies are in talks with manufacturers to secure the vaccine, and plan to use Bharat Biotech International’s Covaxin, Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, and Dr Reddy’s imported Sputnik-V (HT_PRINT)Premium
The e-pharmacies are in talks with manufacturers to secure the vaccine, and plan to use Bharat Biotech International’s Covaxin, Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, and Dr Reddy’s imported Sputnik-V (HT_PRINT)

Online pharmacies are rushing to sign up companies, residential complexes , old-age homes and clinics as vaccinations open up for the private sector, seen as a $1

Online pharmacies are rushing to sign up companies, residential complexes , old-age homes and clinics as vaccinations open up for the private sector, seen as a $1.4 billion opportunity for private healthcare services providers this fiscal year.

The e-pharmacies are in talks with manufacturers to secure the vaccine, and plan to use Bharat Biotech International’s Covaxin, Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, and Dr Reddy’s imported Sputnik-V.

“We have signed up more than 600 corporates as partners. We are going ahead and signing up apartment complexes and societies as well and we are preparing for three types of vaccination systems," said Prashant Tandon, founder and chief executive officer of 1mg, an online pharmacy.

Tandon explained that the first type of vaccination system is camps for societies and corporates. Apart from companies and apartments, it also partnering with local clinics to prepare them for vaccinations while also looking at door-to-door vaccinations where healthcare personnel will visit houses and administer the jabs.

“Fundamentally, vaccination should not be done in hospitals. It is a primary care activity. Hospitals are already overwhelmed with covid patients, and it is unsafe. Most consumers don’t want to go to a hospital because there is a high chance of them getting infected. So, vaccination should move out to the neighbourhood, and we want to enable the neighbourhood," Tandon added.

Digital health services firm Practo on Monday launched its ‘Corporate Suraksha’ vaccination programme allowing companies to enlist staff and family members for inoculation.

Over 500 corporates have expressed interest in joining the programme in the first phase, the company said

According to a 21 April note from Jefferies India, private vaccinations can generate a maximum $1.4 billion in revenues in FY22. The brokerage estimates the vaccine purchase ratio at 50:40:10 for Centre, states and private sector, respectively.

“We estimate 175 million private doses from 1 May until end- FY22, provided all manufactured doses get sold, and in the ratio mentioned above. At $8 per dose, the private market can generate $1.4 billion revenues, including channel margin," Jefferies India said.

Meanwhile, companies are awaiting clarity how to work with Co-WIN. While the application programming interface (API) for the system, which is used to track covid-19 vaccination, has been released, there is still no clarity on how to adapt it to allow private firms like e-pharmacies to work with it.

Pharmeasy in an advertisement said it is currently taking registrations only for corporates, offices, factories and societies with more than 500 people. “If there are more than 500 people/employees, we will set up camp near your office/society," it said.

Though the e-pharmacies did not disclose the price at which they would administer the vaccines, they said it would be competitive to what private hospitals are offering. While Fortis Healthcare will charge 1,250 per dose of Covaxin with 50 as administration cost, Apollo Hospitals will charge 1,200 for administering a dose of Covaxin. The hospital will charge 800 for administering a dose of Covishield, wherein 600 will be the cost of a dose as charged by Serum and 200 will be administration charges.

A spokesperson for e-pharmacy Netmeds was unavailable for comment.

175 million private doses are likely to be administered until end-FY22.reuters
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175 million private doses are likely to be administered until end-FY22.reuters
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