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The Future of Pharmacy with Samuel Okwuada of Remedial Health

August 9, 2022

In the heart of Nigeria's COVID-19 surge in 2020, Samuel Okwuada started receiving a string of phone calls from local pharmacies who were struggling to get stock during lockdown. They needed Samuel to deliver more essential medicines, in smaller quantities, to more locations, at the same or lower costs. This is an impossible equation for any traditional drug distributor to balance - but when it became clear they had no other choice, Samuel knew it was time to create something new.

This is how Samuel Okwuada pivoted his prior venture, a brick-and-mortar wholesale distributor, into a HealthTech startup that is setting new standards for delivery quality meds, reliably and efficiently, to pharmacists across Nigeria. Today's conversation is a case study on how small pharmacies in Nigeria have historically acquired their stock and how this approach is being disrupted with new technologies.

While improving health product distribution has a massive potential for impact, it is also a market rife with challenges, politics, and delays. Samuel recalls how, in order to receive regulatory approval for medicines distribution, he needed immense patience and resourcefulness. Patience, to wait the 2 years needed for government licensing, and resourcefulness, because in order to get licensed, he needed to finance an operational warehouse for 2 years with no revenue. Here we see the speed of technological innovation juxtaposed against the pace of brick-and-mortar operations. But Samuel knows there is a better future ahead and is paving the way for that future: one in which Nigerians can rely with confidence on their local pharmacies to provide high-quality meds when and where they are needed.

Remedial Health 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 prestigious Y Combinator programme, the most successful accelerator program in the world. It also banked US$1 million in pre-seed funding to power its growth.

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