Flipkart, the Indian e-commerce giant, is reportedly in advanced discussions to acquihire online pharmacy start-up Pharmallama. Founded in June 2020 and based in Bengaluru, Pharmallama is a mobile app that delivers prescription medications to customers' doorsteps. The start-up sorts the medicines into different parcels, arranged by date, time and dosage, before delivering them once the order has been confirmed.
If the acquisition goes ahead, it would be Flipkart's second acquisition in the e-pharmacy space, following its purchase of Kolkata-based SastaSundar Marketplace in November 2021, which it subsequently renamed Flipkart Health+. However, SastaSundar still owns a minority stake in the business, Inc42 reported.
Pharmallama's acquisition comes as Flipkart aims to expand its e-pharmacy offering, Flipkart Health+, across India. The company is focusing on Tier-II and Tier-III cities to compete with rivals such as Tata-owned 1mg, Reliance-owned Netmeds and Amazon Pharmacy.
The acquisition comes as India's e-pharmacy sector faces regulatory scrutiny. The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has sent show-cause notices to 20 online pharmacies, including Tata 1mg, Amazon, and Flipkart, accusing them of violating the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. The law regulates the import, manufacture and distribution of medicines in the country.
Flipkart has also made acquisitions outside of the e-pharmacy space, including SaaS startup ANS Commerce in April 2022 and travel tech startup ClearTrip in April 2021. In January 2023, early investors Accel and Tiger Global reportedly planned to exit Flipkart for $1.5 billion in aggregate, as part of Walmart's plan to invest as much as $2.5 billion in Flipkart and PhonePe.
However, Flipkart has faced criticism after one of its delivery agents was reportedly murdered by a customer in Karnataka earlier this month. Following an argument, the customer allegedly stabbed the delivery boy, put his body in a bag, poured petrol over it, and set it on fire.