In the wake of the atrocious rise of Covid-19, Pakistan’s healthcare system has been facing new issues that come with the rising demand for availability of medicines. There are many operative online pharmacy stores in Pakistan, which are regulating medicinal drugs daily and provide online consultation and prescription to meet the demand of the patients.
The benefits that come with online pharmacy are numerous, and comfort is at the top of the list. The easy-going process of buying medicinal drugs without going out, given the global situation, is a preferred way to access the medication. Where other countries have developed online pharmacy system, Pakistan is till now struggling with physical pharmacies. Despite the issues faced by this sector, pharmacies such as emeds are easy to access and a source of authentic medication for the customers.
Potential of Online Pharmacy sector
The Covid-19 pandemic has not only highlighted the void in healthcare systems around the world, but it also shed light on the scarcity of pharmacies in Pakistan. To say the least, Pakistan is in dire need of detailed planning and investment in online pharmacy community since physical pharmacy costs more, and Pakistan pharmacy industry hardly reaches to three hundred billion Pakistani Rupees net worth. Even if we ignore the ongoing situation, online pharmacy sector seems to offer much potential value. For housebound patients, the readily availability of drugs on their door is quite a promising factor.
Online Consultation and Diagnosis
Pakistan’s online pharmacy sector has its own drawbacks which can be avoided only with great scrutiny and better healthcare policies. There are a few drawbacks that the online pharmacy sector all around the world faces. One of these is that the online consultants cannot see the patient in person, so they have to issue prescription according to what the patient thinks the health issue is, and the whole assessment is based on the patient’s description. So, a little piece of misinformation can lead to a wrong diagnosis and false prescription. On the other hand, the issue that Pakistan online pharmacy sector faces is the online sector, in general, do not have an accurate description of the drugs and lack of information provided with drugs is quite alarming. Despite the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) Act 2012, which demands to compete with international pharmacy community, the majority of Pakistan’s pharmacy community is simply not functioning at all.
Frauds and Limitations of Online Pharmacies
People with minor sickness find it hard to buy drugs online since they are not familiar with their options, and some who have prescriptions cannot find the drug they are looking for. Alternative medicines are mostly not available. There are limited medicines which one can buy from an online pharmacy in Pakistan. Online pharmacy stores are supposed to be legitimate and authorized by government bodies. Still, due to lack of interest in the online domain, Pakistan also has the issue of illegitimate pharmacy business on the page. There are scams and spam emails offering medicines at very low prices, or without the need for prescriptions, that can cause financial frauds and health complications. Illegal drugs are also penetrating through online pharmacy stores because of a lack of inspection on online pharmacy stores in Pakistan.
Consequently, online pharmacists or practitioners have not been able to gain public confidence as they could very much be selling fake drugs on a promotional basis, or the identity could be fake as well. Such adverse risks are some of the causes the sector of online pharmacy Pakistan is facing, which is limiting its growth. Fraud is the main element in the failure of online pharmacy community in Pakistan. Unless there is a proper inspection of this matter, the online pharmacy sector will be unable to flourish. The issue should be taken very seriously. The inventory of online pharmacy stores are also not updated regularly, and the price rate could also be fluctuating as compared to the physical pharmacy price rates. Some of the online pharmacy stores in Pakistan also have delivery charges which violate laws that are non-existent in Pakistan but can be observed in other countries. The whole online pharmacy sector is operating on the rules that the physical pharmacy follows, although it needs its own set of rules.
Outreach of Online Pharmacies
The online pharmacies which are regulated by the government bodies are functioning correctly. Still, the lack of consumers on such websites only indicates the lack of trust that the consumers have on the online pharmacy sector in Pakistan. It also suggests that many people in Pakistan do not have access to the internet and are living in oblivion. The awareness regarding online pharmacy is essential for this sector’s growth as it could help Pakistan in beating the current situation with the rise of Covid-19. The consumers or patients who do not find it safe to go out during the global pandemic can use the online pharmacy stores to find the required drugs. Since the physical pharmacies are not meeting the demand of the costumers due to a less number of physical pharmacies when seen in the context of Pakistan being the sixth populous country in the world, we definitely need to update our online pharmacy sector. There are several intertwined governments, public, academic, curriculum, pharmacist and drug retailers related issues in Pakistan which are hindering the process and growth of community pharmacy services regardless of COVID-19’s driven high demand for such services. In the long run, Pakistan also needs to provide health education to its people as the population has a low rate of health literacy. The government of Pakistan needs to tackle this issue with the direct interest in the proliferation of the online pharmacy sector and deal with the dilemmas that are associated with it. An urgent requirement of an instant action in improving virtual correspondence is also needed to fill the gap of patient-doctor consultation. These factors and regulation of medicinal drugs through online pharmacy will eventually be benefiting the people and community of Pakistan at large.
As the people of Pakistan are getting more linked to the internet, it seems about time to acknowledge that through online pharmacy and consultation, Pakistan will create a safer and better future for its people.