In Nigeria, four out of ten packs of medicine sold are counterfeits. While counterfeit drugs sabotage the local pharmaceutical industry and compromise the treatment of diseases, Remedial Health, a Nigerian health tech startup, is addressing this issue and regularising its supply chain.
In Nigeria, four out of ten packs of medicine sold are counterfeits. About 267,000 people die every year as a result of fake and substandard medications. Counterfeit drugs are a serious public health threat that can have devastating consequences for Nigerians. While there have been efforts by the Federal Government to solve this problem, Remedial Health, a Nigerian health tech startup, is solving this problem.
The health tech startup has raised $12 million in Series A funding—a mix of debt and equity—led by US-based venture capital firm QED Investors and Ventures Platform. The investment represents QED’s second investment in an African startup and Ventures Platform’s first Series A investment. Ycombinator, Tencent, and Gaingels also participated in the round. This new funding will enable Remedial Health to deepen the reach of its services across Nigeria—currently, the startup operates in 34 of Nigeria’s 36 states.
Samuel Okwuada, CEO and co-founder of Remedial Health, while speaking on the raise said, “We are delighted to have raised these funds, particularly with the wider context of the global funding downturn and the wide range of economic headwinds in Nigeria. Our continued growth has put us in a strong position to deliver our mission of creating a tech-enabled, pharmacy-centred healthcare network, and we are looking forward to leveraging these funds to achieve more success.”
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Okwuada discovered a market gap and a problem with the drug supply chain: hospitals that needed drugs could not access them due to the markets being shut down. “So I said look, we really need to standardize the supply chain for medicine in Africa,” Okwuada told TechCabal. Okwuada and his team began digitalizing the sale of drugs. Healthcare providers can buy vetted medications through the Remedial App and receive them within 24 hours via Remedial Health’s logistics network.
Remedial also offers pharmacies and PPMVs credit to fund inventory purchases and provide employee loans and salary advances. Through its ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ solution, pharmacies on the Remedial can get stock delivered within 24 hours and pay for it later, while Remedia Health charges a little interest. This process strips pharmacies and local drug stores of the tedious paperwork, huge deposits and collateral involved in getting regular loans from the bank to do their business. Pharmacies that opt for the BNPL solution of Remedial Health have a repayment period of 14 days, while hospitals and government institutions have an extended period of 30 days and 60 days, respectively.
Logistics pose a challenge
Nigeria has three major pharmaceutical market hubs; Idumota in Lagos state, Kano, and Onitsha in Anambra state. Remedial Health reaches the entire nation by establishing regional hubs in different zones across the country to enable a seamless experience. However, moving shipments from one point to another remains a challenge.
Okwuada asserts that bad road networks, unreliable third parties, law enforcement and various tax collectors pose a big challenge. “Getting items from point A to point B seems simple, but it’s very difficult to do in Nigeria. Especially when you are now on the interstates like you are moving between states.”
According to a statement seen by TechCabal, Remedial Health, works with more than 300 manufacturers and serves more than 5,000 hospitals, pharmacies and PPMVs across 34 of Nigeria’s 36 states. According to Remedial’s CEO, 30 new stores have been opened due to Remedial’s financing offering. Okwuada claims the startup sold over 100,000,000 individual packs of medicine in 2022. “If you apply the 40% counterfeit rule, it means that as a company, we replaced 40 million counterfeit drugs in the Nigeria market,” said Okwuada.
While Remedial Health is disrupting the drug supply chain in Nigeria and fighting the long battle against the spread of counterfeit drugs, Okwuada is keen on deepening Remedial Health’s market presence in the country. “The goal is to become the operating system for pharmacies in Nigeria at least within the next 18 to 24 months,” he said. “Right now, the goal is to deepen our presence in Nigeria. We have about 10% of the market share. So, we have a very long way to go before we start thinking of expanding to other countries, and we feel that once you have a significant market share in Nigeria, it’s going to be a lot easier to replicate in other countries.”