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 world of supplements and medications is heavily regulated. But with the rise of eCommerce, many over-the-counter supplements and prescription medications can now 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 retailer of supplements, vitamins or nutraceuticals, you have an obligation to stay-up-to-date with regulations and do your best to make sure your sales are legal and legitimate. If you don’t, regulatory authorities can then step in and produce a “buyers beware” message to help ensure that consumers are smart in their buying decisions. If your site runs counter to their message by selling any products with warnings attached to them you could lose credibility.
Challenge 2: With online sales, there’s too little involvement by a healthcare professional.
Now that so many medications and supplements are available online, they’re easily accessed by anyone—whether or not there’s a doctor or pharmacist involved. This can lead to risky situations, with many people ordering supplements online without a diagnosis from a doctor or any idea of the right dosage from a pharmacist. This can easily cause supplements to be used in the wrong way or a patient taking too much of a certain supplement.
Supplements 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 products. Before selling any supplements, vitamins or nutraceuticals 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 supplements, vitamins or nutraceuticals retailer with an online business, you’re subject to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations, so it’s important to be aware of how to comply with them.
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 HIPAA-savvy eCommerce 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 supplements, vitamins or nutraceuticals eCommerce business, contact us today.