Latin Americans to Buy Medicines Online

LOS ANGELES (03/17/2000) - Farmaciaonline.com will swell the ranks of Internet startups dedicated to e-commerce in Latin America while increasing the range of products offered to Net users in the region and the U.S. Hispanic community.

The company intends to offer online sales of medicine and beauty care products.

Users of Farmaciaonline.com's Web site will have access to a list of 17,000 non-prescription medicines, each with their own brochure -- with indications and contraindications about the medications. At the same time, customers will be offered information on 6,500 beauty care products. Medical and/or pharmacological consultations are also available from the Web site.

The site offers credit card or cash payments upon product delivery. The service works on a 24-hour by 7-day basis.

"The idea of Farmaciaonline.com arose from the need of integrating the Latin American health market by offering better prices and more freedom of choice," said Máximo Juda, chief executive officer and founder of the new company, in a telephone interview.

To protect user privacy, personal information supplied is encrypted through SSL (secure sockets layer) technology.

Since December 1999, the company has been based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Its expansion plans include the opening, during this year, of the service in Brazil, Mexico, and the Hispanic community of the U.S. To cover these plans, the company expects to make a US$20 million investment over the following six months. Part of the investment has been obtained through an Internet venture capital fund of Banco Santander Central Hispano and ParfumsNet.com, Juda said.

Later, the service will also become available in Chile, Venezuela, and Colombia. Juda was reluctant to name opening dates for these offices and mentioned that the headquarters of the company will probably be transferred to Miami as soon as an office in that city can be located.

In each of the countries where the service is opened, agreements or alliances will be reached with drug stores, distributors, or pharmacies for product delivery. Since these types of companies don't yet exist in Latin America, Farmaciaonline.com will initially obtain the necessary permits in each country to function as a traditional pharmacy.

This permit will be requested from the corresponding authorities in each country, or obtained immediately if the agreement between parties allows it.

"This way, obstacles arising from customs regulations will be eliminated, as there will be local logistics in each country," said Juda.

Farmaciaonline.com already has an partnership with Salutia.com for medical consultation services. [See "Web Startup Targets Health Industry in LatAm," Feb. 1.]Farmaciaonline.com, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, can be found at http://www.farmaciaonline.com/

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