Utilizing cloud-based know-how, DrugStoc is powering a pharmaceutical provide chain for the African market

In the event you’ve gone by way of the pains of kid labour or are presently a mum or dad, the possibilities are that you simply could be conversant in oxytocin. 

Oxytocin is a hormone used to induce labour or strengthen uterine contractions or management bleeding after childbirth. It is usually used to stimulate uterine contractions in a lady with an incomplete or threatened miscarriage.

It is among the most beneficial and reasonably priced medication for stopping postpartum haemorrhage (PPH). 

PPH happens when there may be heavy bleeding on the finish of childbirth and is among the main causes of maternal morbidity and mortality in low and middle-income nations (LMICs).

Nonetheless, though oxytocin may be very efficient within the Nigerian scenario, there are points with high quality, dosages, and storage processes. 

In keeping with a 2016 survey by the US Pharmacopeial Conference (USP) in collaboration with the Nationwide Company for Meals and Drug Administration and Management (NAFDAC), about 74.2% of oxytocin samples within the nation failed lab-quality evaluations. Basically, three out of 4 oxytocin doses have been of sub-standard high quality.

Oxytocin is a temperature-sensitive drug and is to be saved at 2-8 levels Celcius to keep up correct efficacy for not less than a month. Whereas it could possibly final for 3 days at room temperature, it loses its efficiency after that. From the survey, solely 52% of the 705 respondents knew the right storage procedures. 

Other than this, nevertheless, is the problem of poor provide chain administration.

And Nigeria-based healthtech, DrugStoc, is trying to resolve the nation’s poor drug provide chain downside.

A DrugStoc for well being care suppliers

L-R DrugStoc co-founders: Chibuzo Opara (CEO) and Adham Yehia (President) Supply: Provided

Based in 2015 by Chibuzor Opara and Adham Yehia, DrugStoc is a “cloud-based well being pharmaceutical distribution platform.

“We principally join producers of excellent high quality pharmaceutical merchandise to hospitals and pharmacies. We’re fixing a basic downside out there which is fragmentation within the pharmaceutical provide chain,” Opara informed •.

In keeping with him, this fragmentation has resulted in three key points: entry, substandard and counterfeit medicine, and non-transparent pricing and financing of the provision chain.

“You see that a whole lot of healthcare suppliers actually don’t know what’s out there. In the event you ask a health care provider in Nigeria, for example, what number of manufacturers of paracetamol are available on the market, they’ll in all probability inform you one thing like three, 4, 5. To be trustworthy, there are over fifty with various high quality and worth factors, and so they meet totally different wants.”

These data gaps may be fairly dangerous, particularly in seemingly extra extreme circumstances like most cancers and diabetes, the place the healthcare supplier has to prescribe high quality medication to the affected person. 

By offering a cloud-based platform that stops infiltration of counterfeit or substandard medication, DrugStoc seems to unravel all three issues. 

The concept is to assist healthcare suppliers deal with their main aim: giving the most effective service to the affected person.

Additionally, as Yehia informed TechCrunch in an interview for DrugStoc’s latest $4.4 million Sequence A elevate, aside from the tech, organising vital infrastructure like the corporate’s fulfilment centres in 2017 — warehouses for distribution of medication — and buyer assist models have been important.

The corporate’s companies may be accessed by way of its web site or app on the Google Play Retailer and Apple App Retailer.

The journey to DrugStoc

The DrugStoc staff

Each Opara and Yehia have a medical background, with the previous bagging a Bachelor of Drugs and Bachelor of Surgical procedure (MBBS) from the Usmanu Danfodiyo College, Sokoto, Nigeria. He additionally has a PhD in Drugs & Surgical procedure and an MPH in Economics, Coverage and Administration from the College of Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Yehia, then again, graduated from McMaster College, California, with a bachelor’s diploma in Genetics. Coincidentally, each selected to do their masters in the identical faculty, albeit at totally different occasions and met as Yehia was in search of an advisor for his Masters in Well being Innovation Administration.

“We had realised that we type of confronted the identical challenges. He comes from a healthcare background with a household that has been in healthcare for about 40 years. So we have been discussing the identical challenges again and again and determined, ‘Let’s do one thing about it.’” Opara informed Techpoint

Opara had spent the years after receiving his MBBS specialising in surgical procedure however quickly discovered what he referred to as “large gaps affecting the ancillary operations” of healthcare provision. Doing a 180, he determined to additional his coaching in economics, working with worldwide organisations just like the World Well being Group, the European Union, the Worldwide Finance Company, and the World Financial institution.

Upon transferring again to Nigeria, the 2 co-founded Integra Well being in 2010, a well being consultancy and IT Lab based mostly out of Lagos, targeted on integrating environment friendly administration practices and processes into healthcare by way of know-how. 

“We have been fortunate sufficient to handle about 20 services, however we bumped into the identical challenges once more when it got here to sourcing medicine, and we determined to do one thing about it. We found that — and that is frequent with sub-Saharan nations with open drug markets — services would ship people to the open drug markets to supply medication, and when these medication got here, you couldn’t vouch for his or her security, high quality, or storage.”

This led them to start out DrugStoc. On the time, they used Excel sheets, nevertheless it solely solved the issue for the 20 services. To scale and make this helpful to extra folks, it turned what it’s now, a cloud-based warehouse/market for high quality medication.

However it went by way of some phases. First included in 2015, the corporate ran a pilot for about 12 to 18 months earlier than sticking with its present mannequin and constructing its first expertise centre in 2017. They’d additionally spent a yr on the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Creating Economies.

Crunching the numbers

Supply: Provided

Making a quip about DrugStoc being funded by blood, sweat, and tears, Opara informed us that the corporate had acquired seed funding from Vested World, A VC agency based mostly in Chicago, Illinois.

The corporate additionally participated within the Co-creation Hub (CcHUB) Development Capital Fund, receiving some funding. In 2019, DrugStoc acquired a $65,000 grant from the Jack Ma Basis’s inaugural $1 million Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative. They went on to get one other grant from the Invoice and Melinda Gates Basis.

Extra just lately, in November 2021, the corporate introduced a $4.4 million Sequence A led by Africa HealthCare Grasp Fund (AAIC). German Growth Financial institution (DEG) and returnee traders, Vested World, additionally invested within the spherical.

As contained in DrugStoc’s official assertion, Opara, talking on the elevate, mentioned, “We’re dedicated to creating an influence within the healthcare trade. This funding will allow us to broaden and launch our tech-enabled merchandise in additional African nations the place prescription drugs are critically wanted.”

Other than funding, the corporate additionally makes cash from a fee which it fees prospects for its companies. Opara believes that donor funding can’t be relied upon, and sustainability have to be constructed into the enterprise to face the take a look at of time.

The tip aim is to verify nothing impacts the corporate’s provide chain and, in flip, its potential to offer high quality companies to prospects.

What occurs subsequent?

Supply: Provided

DrugStoc’s mantra is “How can we do it totally different?” And with a staff energy of twenty-two, the mid to long run aim is to broaden into different sub-Saharan markets with related issues inside the subsequent 12 to 18 months.

In keeping with Opara, the Nigerian trade is underperforming in a number of key areas.

“In the event you take manufacturing, for example, we’re presently utilising someplace above 50% of our capability, which signifies that we are able to really provide all the West Africa relating to prescription drugs that originate from Nigeria. However we’re presently not doing that.”

However having reached over 20 million folks by way of slightly below 3,000 well being services, Opara says DrugStoc desires to hit the milestone of 100 million folks within the subsequent yr and a half.


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