The shops, named ‘Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP, or loosely termed the Prime Minister’s Indian Public Medicine Scheme) kendra’, cater to the mid- and lower income segments of the population.
Its objective is to provide affordable generic medicines, which are priced around 50 to 90% less than branded ones. Currently, the ‘kendra’ sell over 1,400 drugs and 240 surgical instruments nationwide.
Around mid-March, the shops added nutraceuticals to its shelves, such as protein powders and bars, malt-based food supplements and immunity boosters, with substantial discounts for the consumer.
Indian industry expert Amit Srivastava from nutrition marketplace platform NutrifyToday said: “There is a trend where the Indian pharmaceutical industry is leading science-driven nutraceuticals. The market for nutraceuticals will absolutely grow and, most importantly, it will evolve into market leaders as regulations get stricter”.
There are 8,675 PMBJP ‘kendra’ across the nation, supported by three IT-enabled warehouses in Gurugram (Haryana, northern India), Chennai (capital of Tamil Nadu, southern India) and Guwahati (biggest city in Assam, north-eastern India). A fourth warehouse is expected to operate in Surat (Gujarat, western India).
The Indian authorities also targeted to increase the number of ‘kendra’ to 10,500 and have six warehouses by end-2025. Additionally, a total of 39 distributors have been chosen to support the supply of medicines to remote areas, according to an official statement made by the Indian Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
Srivastava, who is also a member of the newly-minted Indian task force to promote nutraceutical growth, added companies can get their items on ‘kendra’ shelves nationwide through a central procurement system. Firms may approach the PMBJP head office to complete the necessary documentation and obtain approvals.
There is no barrier for international firms to enter the nutraceutical ‘kendra’ market, but Srivastava cautioned that there might be “preference for made-in-India products”.
“The products that are highly likely to be popular among consumers are vitamins and mineral supplements, which is most trending now. Protein supplements are also considered to have the highest growth, whereas the most promising nutraceuticals are phytoactives and probiotics,” he said.
NutrifyToday also has just received a fund injection worth USD$500,000 for product development, automation, commercialisation and provision of supply chain solutions from nutraceutical investor Dr Anand Swaroop.
So far, the platform has built more than 18,000 connections between companies. It targets to create up to 450,000 ties by 2025.
Srivastava expressed his elation at finding a strategic-minded investor like Dr Swaroop.
The investment will enable NutrifyToday to expand to the US in late-2022, he added.
“I am very happy that the investment will assist in peer networking, deal-making, easing of commercialisation and promote market access into key countries, especially India – the new gold mine on the block and a USD$100bn nutraceutical industry in the making by 2030. India is undergoing the most interesting period of the evolution of the nutraceutical industry. It’s the best period in recent history yet,” Srivastava said.