No matter how you slice it, eCommerce is everywhere. Every day, more companies are moving their business online. This comes with some perks and some challenges. The pharmaceutical industry is no different, but the challenges for this industry are unique. Read on to discover the challenges you might face as you bring (or expand) your pharma business online — and how you can have the best chance to succeed.
Challenge 1: Heavy regulations aren’t so easy to implement online.
In doctors’ offices, hospitals and pharmacies, the pharmaceutical world is heavily regulated. But with the rise of eCommerce, many over-the-counter and prescription medications can be sold online by anyone. In fact, studies show that 66% of countries around the world have no laws in place that regulate the online sales of medicine. In the United States, authorities do have many laws and regulations in place and try to step in to make sure that the public is receiving legitimate medications from legitimate sources. Unfortunately, however, this doesn’t always happen. As a result, each month, these US regulations shut down around 1,500 websites that sell medications to consumers without appropriate safeguards.
As a pharma retailer, you have an obligation to do your best to make your sales legal and legitimate. If you don’t, regulatory authorities can then step in and give a “buyers beware” message and hope that consumers are smart in their buying decisions.
Challenge 2: With online sales, there’s too little involvement by a healthcare professional.
Before eCommerce, a healthcare professional or pharmacist had to be involved in every transaction regarding prescription medication. But now that so many medications are available online, they’re easily accessed by anyone — whether or not there’s a doctor or pharmacist involved. This can lead to a risky situation with many people ordering medications online without a diagnosis from a doctor or any idea of the right dosage from a pharmacist. This can easily cause medications to be used in the wrong way or a patient taking too much of a certain medication.
Pharma eCommerce retailers should always sell only legitimate products in recommended amounts. Failing to do so can easily land you in legal hot water. In August 2020, the FDA sent a warning letter to RX Easy Meds because they were “misbranding” their drugs. Before selling any pharmaceuticals online, it’s vital to check the FDA’s website so you don’t find yourself in legal hot water too.
Challenge 3: All pharma eCommerce companies must not violate HIPAA regulations.
As a pharma retailer with an online business, it’s important to consider how to be HIPAA compliant, as all pharma retailers are subject to HIPAA regulations.
HIPAA regulations can be extensive and complex. They ask companies to implement rules to protect patients’ health information, limit all sharing of confidential personal data and train all employees about security and confidentiality. As a result, you have to choose the right eCommerce and HIPAA development partners so that your customers’ personal information is always secure and never exposed online or elsewhere. If you aren’t careful enough, hackers can breach your customers’ healthcare records, which can quickly send you down a road of unending legal troubles. Plus, customers are quick to abandon any company that makes them feel that their private information is at risk.
As your pharma company grows its eCommerce presence, you’re sure to face challenges along the way. It’s a great idea for online merchants to continually check in with legal counsel to make sure that all of their activity is above reproach. Failing to do so can quickly lead to items slipping through the cracks and then exposing a company to devastating losses. However, by knowing what’s coming and tackling those challenges in a smart way, your online sales are sure to be a success.
To find out how InteractOne can help with your pharmaceutical eCommerce, contact us today.