Nigerian startup Remedial Health has developed a range of solutions to make Africa’s pharmaceutical sector more efficient, and earned acceptance into the Silicon Valley-based Y Combinator accelerator for its troubles.
Launched in 2020 by Samuel Okwuada and Victor Benjamin, Remedial Health delivers a range of technology solutions that make it easier for healthcare providers to access affordable and genuine retail medicines, consumables and medical devices from manufacturers and distributors.
“We provide a range of solutions, including our digital procurement and patient medication records platforms that make it easier for neighbourhood pharmacies and Proprietary Patent Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) to access affordable and authentic retail medicines,” Okwuada told Disrupt Africa.
“Starting with Nigeria, we are delivering technology solutions that enable greater efficiency and profitability in Africa’s pharmaceutical sector and supporting the development of a tech-enabled, pharmacy-centred healthcare network across the continent.”
Remedial already has operations in nine states across Nigeria and is connected to more than 100 pharmaceutical manufacturers and suppliers, including GSK, Pfizer and Astrazeneca, as well as Nigeria’s Orange Drugs, Emzor and Fidson Healthcare. Earlier this year, it was one of the African startups that took part in the Y Combinator programme, while it also banked US$1 million in pre-seed funding to help it continue to grow.
The business started off as a private label company, focused on contract manufactured products from markets like India, which it sold to pharmacies in Nigeria.
“Shifts in market demand and supply chain disruptions exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic caused us to move in a different direction, with customers making orders for products that were outside our private label offering,” Okwuada said.
“We decided to combine my expertise as a trained pharmacist with extensive software development experience with my co-founder’s experience as a field sales agent to create a range of digital solutions to make the pharmaceutical ecosystem more efficient and profitable.”
The pivot saw Remedial start to focus on PPMVs – businesses without a trained pharmacist that sell pharmaceutical products on a retail basis for profit.
“They provide the main source of medicines for many common illnesses and account for more than 80 per cent of all the drugs sold in Africa’s US$45 billion pharmaceutical industry. However, a fragmented market and an opaque supply chain means manufacturers have limited visibility into their performance, leading to inefficient decision making on forecasting, production and distribution,” said Okwuada.
“Using our digital procurement platform, pharmacies and PPMVs can source all the medicines, consumables and small medical devices for their practice via a mobile app or mobile responsive web store at open air medicine market prices and have them delivered within 24 hours.”
All products are vetted before distribution to verify their authenticity, and “Buy-Now-Pay-Later” options are also available to enable store owners to stock up and maximise the sales opportunities available to them.
“We also provide an affordable and easy-to-use patient medication records platform that enables pharmacies and PPMVs to digitally manage day-to-day operations and seamlessly run their practices,” Okwuada said.
“The PMR platform stores patient medication records, patient communications, stock management, order processing, reporting and accounting to support more effective and efficient patient care. The platform also enables Remedial Health to provide consolidated, real-time data on market behaviour to manufacturers for increased profitability and better decision-making across the value chain.”
Investors in Remedial Health’s pre-seed round include Global Ventures, Ventures Platform, Ingressive Capital and said illustrious angels, such as Flutterwave’s Olugbenga “GB” Agboola, Victor Asemota, and Jobberman co-founder Opeyemi Awoyemi’s Angel Syndicate Fund. The startup already has a network of more than 300 pharmacies, and more than 100 pharmaceutical manufacturers and suppliers, and is now targeting further growth.
“We are exploring other opportunities to penetrate the market a little further but our focus for now is on deepening our footprint in Nigeria and creating more value for our partner pharmacies and manufacturers,” said Okwuada.
“We plan to expand across more states and eventually across the continent to empower more pharmacies and PPMV as the frontline of healthcare in Africa.”
Remedial, which makes money by providing inventory to pharmacies and hospitals via its managed marketplace and taking a cut on transactions, is addressing logistics challenges, an area that can be difficult, especially when deploying a relatively new service.
“We have had to build our own in-house distribution system with a central hub supported by regional hubs that serve the states we have operations in. We also work with trusted third party logistics partners when we need extra support to meet capacity,” Okwuada said.
“There is also the challenge of counterfeit drugs. To navigate this challenge, we work directly with manufacturers and certified distributors. We are also exploring opportunities to add more white label medicines and contract manufactured medicines to our inventory.”