Given this significant standing in the pharmaceutical sector, entrepreneurs and founders may find it strategically advantageous to venture into the establishment of drug stores or pharmacies, or consider expanding their existing businesses with minimal capital investment.

Commencing a pharmacy business requires obtaining a pharmacy license, and this article outlines the essential legal requirements and necessary documentation to facilitate the license acquisition process.

How to Start a Pharmacy Business?

The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 governs and controls any pharmacy business or drug store involved in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of drugs in India. Each state in India has almost identical formalities; however, owners must first contact their district Drug Inspection Officer to find out how to start a pharmacy. To start a pharmacy company, the following requirements are required:

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Experience Matter Alot

The owner’s and other partners’ (if applicable) experience in pharmacy must be of a certain level. Either they have conducted a business in this sector or specializes in sales, marketing, business fundamentals and growth, legal knowledge, etc.
Business Plan

The owner shall prepare a plan for the business, which may consist of, but is not limited to, a business overview, the product, business prospects, financial planning, competition, marketing strategy, distribution channels, risks, etc.
List of Molecules

The owner is responsible for preparing a list detailing all molecules and combinations destined for placement on the market.
Brand Name

The owner should finalize the company name and the brand name of all products and make sure these do not resemble any other companies or brands already in the market.
Search for Premises

The owner is also required to select suitable premises for office, licensing, and stock. Depending on the adequate space required by the government, it may be rented or owned.

In the case where the owner or other partners (if applicable) does not have a Diploma in Pharmacy from Pharmacy Council of India, then he/she shall appoint a registered pharmacist having Diploma in Pharmacy/Bachelor in Pharma/Doctor in Pharmacy to be eligible for applying as a pharmacist registration if he/she wishes to open a drug store.

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Essential Drug Licenses

 In India, the issue of drug license is controlled by the CDSO and State Drugs Standard Control Organization, and the following are the two main drug licenses required for setting up a pharmacy business:

 Drug License Eligibility
 Retail Drug License (to operate a pharmacy).  The component person must be a pharmacist registered with the state pharmacy council.
 Wholesale Drug License (for persons involved in the wholesale of drugs, who sell stock or exhibit for sale, or who distribute via wholesale). The component person must have experience working in a drug store or company.
 Other licenses which are issued are the following:
 Import Drug License. Multi-Drug License. Manufacturing License. 

Application Forms

The following are the most important application forms required for a drug license:

 Application forms Issued for
Form 19 Sale, distribution and storage of medicines for distribution. 
Form 19A Grant of the license of renewal for a restricted license.
Form 19B Selling Homeopathy medicines.
Form 20B Sale or distribution of drugs at wholesale.
Form 24 Specific medicines.
Form 24A Loan license.
Form 24B  Repacking of medicines.

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Documents Required

The following are the documents required for obtaining the drug license:

 List of Documents of Applicant List of Documents for Competent Person List of Documents for Business Premises 
 The Certificate of Incorporation or Registration. BioData as per Proforma. If owned: registered Sale Deed / registered GPA / Conveyance Deed in the name of the owner or case of unregistered Sale Deed / unregistered GPA supported with Electricity Bill / Water Bill/property tax receipt.
 Memorandum and Articles of Association or Partnership Deed or LLP Agreement.  Appointment Letter of Component Person. If rented: registered rent agreement with Rent Receipt or in case of unregistered rent agreement:a.       No Objection Certificate from the owner. b.      Key plan and site plan of the premises duly attested by the approved architect of the municipality.
 PAN Card and Cancelled Cheque.  Proof of Qualification. 
 List of Directors and Major Shareholders.  Experience Certificate. 
 Photo, ID and Address Proof of Director(s).  Photo, ID and Address proof. 
 Board Resolution on the letterhead.  Affidavit. 
 Affidavit from Director(s).   

Things Required To Obtain a Drug License

The following are the requirements for obtaining a drug licence:

Area requirement:

  • Retail: Minimum area required is 10 sq. meters.
  • Wholesale: Minimum area required is 10 sq. meters.
  • Wholesale Cum Retail: Minimum area required is 15 sq. meters.

It is to be noted that the ceiling height should be at least 9.5 feet.

Storage: A pharmacy business/drug store must have a refrigerator for the storage of certain vaccines. Additionally, the drug store must have an air conditioner on the premises.

Registered Pharmacist: All pharmacies should have a registered pharmacist on staff.


The following are the registrations required by the drug store:

 Purpose  It is mandatory and compulsory. Not compulsory but If the owner is dealing with food and dietary supplements along with other medicines.
Documents requiredAddress Proof of business and owner(s).

Aadhar card and PAN card.

Partnership Deed / MOA.  

Bank statements.
 TM-48 Form. Name and Logo of Business. Trademark class. Assignment form.Form-B. List of Directors/owners. List of food categories desired.  
Authority Letter. 
Partnership Deed / MOA and AOA / Affidavit of proprietorship. 
Food safety management system plan, if any.

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An individual can set up an online pharmacy company/drug store/web drug store or an e-pharmacy, for example, NetMeds, PharmEasy, Tata 1mg, etc. The following statutes regulate e-pharmacy in India:

  • Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
  • Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
  • Pharmacy Act, 1948.
  • Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • Indian Medical Act, 1956 and Code of Ethics Regulations, 2002.
  • Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
  • Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954.

Steps to Start An Online Drug Store In India

The following are the steps to be followed if an individual wants to start an online drug store in India:

  • Hiring Pharmacist: The main priority should be hiring a qualified and registered pharmacist.
  • FDA & FSSAI Licenses: E-pharmacies cannot operate without licenses from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
  • Licenses from local authorities: This includes licenses from state authorities and local authorities such as municipalities and village panchayats or district administrations.
  • Couriers: The owner should also make arrangements with the courier companies for pick-up and drop-off.
  • Website & App: An e-pharmacy must have both its website and an app. There are also legal requirements, such as a contract with the web and app developer.

When incorporating an online or offline pharmacy company/drug store, the above requirements and specifications must be adhered to. The prices of the medicines should be in accordance with DPCO guidelines and should not exceed the listed rates.


1. What legal requirements are essential for opening a pharmacy business in India?

  • To open a pharmacy business in India, you need to fulfill legal requirements such as obtaining a pharmacy license, adhering to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act regulations, and ensuring compliance with local health department guidelines.

2. How do I obtain a pharmacy license for my business?

  • To obtain a pharmacy license, you must submit a license application to the State Drugs Control Authority or the respective regulatory body. The application process typically involves providing details about the premises, qualifications of the pharmacist, and other necessary documentation.

3. What documents are needed to obtain a pharmacy license?

  • Required documents usually include the application form, proof of premises ownership or lease, a layout plan of the premises, educational qualifications of the pharmacist, and details of the appointed registered pharmacist.

4. Are there specific educational qualifications required for the pharmacist managing the pharmacy?

  • Yes, the pharmacist managing the pharmacy should have a degree or diploma in pharmacy from a recognized institution. The qualifications may vary by state, so it’s important to check the specific requirements of the regulatory authority.

5. Can I operate a pharmacy business without a pharmacy license?

  • No, operating a pharmacy without a valid pharmacy license is illegal and can lead to legal consequences. It is crucial to obtain the necessary licenses to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.

6. What are the zoning requirements for setting up a pharmacy business?

  • Zoning requirements may vary depending on the location. It is important to check with the local municipal corporation or relevant authorities to ensure that the chosen location complies with zoning regulations for a pharmacy.

7. How do I maintain compliance with the Drugs and Cosmetics Act regulations?

  • To maintain compliance, stay updated on the latest regulations under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Regularly check for amendments, adhere to storage and dispensing guidelines, and ensure that the pharmacist on duty is aware of and follows the legal requirements.

8. Can a pharmacy business sell both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications?

  • Yes, a pharmacy can sell both prescription and OTC medications. However, there are specific regulations regarding the storage, sale, and dispensing of prescription drugs that must be strictly followed.

9. Are there any specific guidelines for storing pharmaceuticals in a pharmacy?

  • Yes, guidelines for storing pharmaceuticals include maintaining proper storage conditions, temperature control, and ensuring the security of medicines. Compliance with storage guidelines is crucial for maintaining the efficacy and safety of the drugs.

10. How can I stay informed about changes in pharmacy regulations?

  • Stay informed by regularly checking the official website of the State Drugs Control Authority or the relevant regulatory body. Additionally, consider joining professional pharmacy associations and networks that provide updates on industry regulations and best practices.

By indifi

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