Medical Retail chain Medicine Shoppe to expand network outside Mumbai

Hyderabad: Medical retail chain Medicine Shoppe of Dublin-based Cardinal Health is now looking beyond Mumbai, and plans to commence operations in Pune and Hyderabad.

''Sehat'' is a pharmacy-cum-clinic for low-income urban groups dwelling in slum areas in major cities. Targeted at the urban poor, the chain plans to start the ''sehat'' model of retail pharmacy stores in Pune and Hyderabad.

The company plans to set up over 500 pharmacies-cum-clinics over a three to five year period, of which 100 could be in Mumbai, while the remaining would be in other cities. The company is working on involving health workers and self-help groups in creating awareness about its low-cost stores located in urban slums.

The company is counting on the word-of-mouth publicity as a critical success factor for its chain, given that the majority of its target audience is largely illiterate.

The pharmacy-cum-clinic will also have an MBBS-qualified doctor for consultation at a nominal charge of Rs20, a pathological laboratory for diagnostic tests, in addition to its pharmacy. The idea is to refund the consultation fee if the patient opts to buy the prescribed medicines at the ''Sehat'' pharmacy.

According to the company, one of the biggest challenges in expanding this ''new'' chain was to find a legally-acceptable location to set up the store, on account of ownership issues in most slums. Another challenge is finding medical professionals willing to work in these areas, of which the company is confident of overcoming.