We all have different notions and perceptions that we can’t let go of. They live in our minds rent-free and influence every decision we make. The worst part is that we don’t even realize it. Because these perceptions are not formed overnight, they are a summation of things we learn as we grow up, life experiences, and opinions of those we emulate or respect.

At Medkart, we battle preconceived notions every day. In India, high-quality medications are available and affordable for everyone. But the customer perception is poised against generic medicines. The ‘branded is better’ presumption makes people pay dearly.

That is not to say that all human beings are presumptuous or that pre-set notions can never change. It’s all about educating the customer. Building awareness brings available options to light, and experiences based on informed decisions slowly break pre-set notions. That’s when we accept new perceptions in our minds.
And that’s our job in the Indian pharma market – Awareness, Availability, and Acceptance
We founded Medkart in 2014 with a vision to redefine the positioning of medicines. No one has tried to focus on generic medicines in pharmaceutical retail. Doctors prescribe branded medicines because they perceive them to be better, patients purchase branded medicines because they trust their doctors, and pharmacies supply medicines that sell. In the entire ecosystem, no one raises awareness about generics, educates patients about them, or makes any effort to reduce the sizes of medical bills in India.
We are here with the mission to become a one-stop solution for generic medicines and a trusted name for Indian patients. A place where they can compare the prescribed medicine with other names in the market and buy what they can best afford.
When medicine is created for the first time, the original manufacturer is awarded a patent. It could be three years or more. Only the original manufacturer may make and sell the medication during this time. They create a brand name and popularize the packaging, connect with doctors who treat the ailment in question and price the medication high enough to recover their costs. This product will forever be known as the ‘patented/research version’ of the medicine.
When this patent expires, all other pharma manufacturers are free to produce this medication. These new versions are called ‘Generic.’ Generic medications can be priced significantly lower than branded medicines – as the manufacturer did not incur any research, manufacturing, or marketing expenses. But otherwise, these medicines are equally effective, WHO-GMP approved, and completely safe to use.
For the patient who pops the pill – there is no difference.
Doctors advocate branded medicines based on their perception, what their peers usually prescribe, and what they think patients find most acceptable. There is also a lack of conversation about generic medicines, so doctors rarely support their use. On the other side of the table, patients are unwilling to accept or even find out more about the options of medications available. Most patients are reluctant to educate themselves unless there’s an absolute crisis or need.
And, of course, pharmaceutical manufacturers earn better by pushing branded medicines rather than generic ones. Their vested interests encourage misinformation and thrive in the lack of awareness.
Changing these perceptions and assumptions against generic medication is an uphill battle. But we have just begun. When you step into a Medkart store, you meet qualified pharmacists and informed staff members trained to help customers understand the medicines they buy. Our protocol is to always discuss the patient’s different medication options compared to the prescribed brand. And most important, we give patients a chance to ask questions, touch and feel generic medicines, and dispel myths before they buy anything.
Perhaps these efforts result that Medkart having 103+ stores spread across Gujarat and in Jaipur. More than seven lakh families keep buying generic medicines from Medkart stores. Almost five thousand doctors now buy generic medication for themselves from Medkart. Collectively, we have helped Indian pharma customers save more than 350 crore rupees in medical bills. And this is only the beginning.
In developed nations, 85% of pharma customers prefer generic medicines. The adoption rate of generic medicines in India is around 4%. We cannot expect this to rise overnight, but through our groundwork, we aim to bring it to 50% or more. When the entire medical ecosystem initiates a conversation about generic medicines and their benefits, Medkart will lead the way as a pole bearer for generics in India.

- Ankur Agarwal
The author is an IIM alumnus and founder of Medkart Pharmacy. He strongly believes in sharing knowledge to help people choose better especially when it comes to medicine consumption. He talks passionately about generic medicines and entrepreneurship. You can follow him on (his LinkedIn profile)