From warehouse to patient: mPharma’s approach to increasing the accessibility of medicines in Africa (Rising Africa)

Good news from the continent

Since 2013, the startup mPharma has been trying to build an infrastructure and a drug-monitoring system to connect patients, hospitals and pharmacies. The objective is to enable doctors to know the exact location and availability of medicines in real time, and patients to have better access to medicines.

mPharma is a prescription drug manager for providers and payers in Africa. They manage the drug inventory for providers and design drug benefits plan for payers. mPharma currently operates in three African countries (Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia), serving close to 20,000 patients each month across a network of over 70 hospitals and clinics in Lagos, Warri, Port Harcourt, Benin, Aba, Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, Lusaka and Ndola. mPharma aims to build the data intelligence and retail layer to support the future of African healthcare.

mPharma is building a more scalable version of CVS Health in Africa using the Airbnb model enabling mPharma to create a tightly coupled pharmacy monolith with leverage over pricing, distribution and reimbursements.

mPharma has developed supply-chain software that enables them to implement vendor managed inventory for independent healthcare providers in Africa. mPharma takes over inventory procurement of retail and hospital pharmacies while remotely running pharmacy operations using proprietary technology infrastructure. This entails using data generated through their software to forecast demand, and commanding lower pricing from suppliers (distributors and manufacturers) due to aggregated and predicted volumes across hospitals and retail pharmacies in their network.

mPharma supplies drugs to all pharmacies on consignment. Thus, revenues are based on actual drug sales to patients, and not what is supplied to hospitals on a timed basis. This creates a disruptive business model for hospitals and pharmacies because it is different from the traditional “pay-for-supplies” model that distributors offer. This model improves working capital and cash flow for hospitals and pharmacies.

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