On-screen doctors to write scrip at China's Jo-Jo Drugstores

Pill manufacture

With a regulator nod for full online prescription drug sales in China on hold for now, Nasdaq-listed Jo-Jo Drugstores plans a TV loop direct to doctors who will listen to your ailments and write up scrips.

The Zhejiang province-based pharmacy chain won China FDA approval for the plan to install the virtual doctor screens at 6 stores, allowing them to consult and write prescriptions if needed that the pharmacist can fill on the spot.

"It is expected that nearly 2,500 prescriptions will be made available online under this program," the company said in a release.

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The approval comes after online retail giant Alibaba ($BABA) last month dropped plans to integrate its pharmacy business into its health unit and sell more drugs online on concerns that regulatory approval would not be forthcoming.

China FDA has grown increasingly cautious about the sale of online drugs. But it is willing to experiment with models that may bring down costs and provide better services.

China Jo-Jo said the program would cut prescription costs. It hopes to extend the pilot to all 59 retail outlets.

"Access to doctors in China has been difficult historically in many rural areas of China," China Jo-Jo chairman and CEO Lei Liu said in a statement.

"Not only does our program rectify this problem, relieving hospitals of patient overflow; we are also able to save consumers between 10% and 30% in prescriptions costs as compared to the exact same service rendered at area hospitals."

The company cited China FDA figures indicating that at the end of 2015, the market for pharmaceutical dispensary service was RMB1.3 trillion--with 80% of pricing and dispensary services controlled by hospitals.

- here's the release from China Jo-Jo


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