The Indian Pharmaceutical space is witnessing a storm of new start-ups, not only for cash flow opportunities the sector offers but also championing the cause of making medicines affordable for the needy.
Lack of access to good quality and affordable medicines has been a major challenge plaguing Indian healthcare pushing 3% of Indians into poverty every year. In a bid to tackle the issue, 'Dawaa Dost', an omnichannel pharmacy chain, came into being in 2018, with an aim to provide high-quality, right-priced affordable medicines in the form of branded generics to over one billion Indians.
Dawaa Dost claims to enable 50-80 per cent savings on every Indian’s medicine bills by providing high-quality medicines from the most respected pharma companies at the right price.
“As we know branded generics are off-patent drugs and are much more affordable than branded medicines as pharma companies don’t have to spend on R&D and can pass on this saving to the end customer. In India, 90% of the pharma market is made up of such drugs. However, the non-transparent supply chain does not pass on the benefit to the consumer, and the consumer has to pay exorbitant prices for generic medicine,” Amit Choudhary, Co-founder and CEO, Dawaa Dost, said.
“This triggers off an avalanche of healthcare issues of trust, adherence, and awareness resulting in India being in the bottom quartile of the healthcare benchmarks. And in a country where 85% of total health expenditure is out-of-pocket and medicines constitute 20-60% of total healthcare expenditure, branded generics play a crucial role in breaking this vicious cycle and making healthcare affordable for patients,” he said.
Dawaa Dost tied up with noted pharma companies to ensure that the best quality medicines are provided at the right price. In addition to its online presence spanning 19,000 pin codes across India, Dawaa Dost has 69 retail stores in 10 cities.
“Over the last two years, we have seen a 10 times growth and we are confident that we will deliver savings of $1 billion by 2025. We are already unit-level profitable and have industry-leading financials. The majority of people having chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases switch to branded generic medicines for greater savings. So far, we have catered to 3.5 million Indians, nationally and enabled savings worth Rs. 250 million for them,” said Choudhary.
The new start-ups in the game have noticed that healthcare costs pinch the user on medicines as that part is rarely covered by any insurance. In the case of chronic diseases, it becomes all the rarer. The beginning is with one disease and one leads to another, medicines and dosages increase and so does the cost.
Medkart, another such startup, has a wide range of molecules across the spectrum and ends up with an average saving of 73% for its chronic customers. On average, annually ₹10,000 is saved by a chronic customer at Medkart, claims the company.
“Generics are made by different categories of manufacturers. We dispense only World Health Organization Good Manufacturing Practices (WHO GMP) certified manufacturer's generics which are at par with the prescribed brands or in some cases even better than them. On the price front, they are anywhere between 50-95% cheaper,” Ankur Agarwal, Founder, Medkart said.
“After 8 years Medkart is currently operating over 107 stores, has educated over 7 lakh patients about generics and added 20,000 every month and saving more than Rs 10 crores monthly for the customers with a total of over Rs 350 crores till date,” he said.
Similarly, Generic Aadhaar is aiming to bring a new ecosystem to the old-decade pharma world. India is known as a pharmaceutical hub. One-third of medicines are exported from India to the rest of the world and still, the people here in the country cannot get the benefits. Considering the equation, Generic Aadhaar has come forward to curb the illicit trade in life-saving drugs and provide low-cost drugs to the people.
“Generic Aadhaar has disrupted the conventional pharma industry and is determined to empower single-store owners and pass on the benefit to the end customer. We aim to support the common man’s monthly medicine budget by providing life-saving high-quality medicines at very affordable prices. Generic Aadhaar delivers high-quality medicine at up to 80% off from manufacturers to end-users directly, eliminating middle-chain costs such as marketing, distribution, stocking, and supply chain through a unique pharmacy-aggregator business model,” Arjun Deshpande, Founder and CEO, Generic Aadhaar said.
As per estimates, about 60% of Indians cannot afford to buy their daily medicines. The drug prices include marketing and promotional costs which cut down on the public’s wallet.
“There is no alternative for medicines, and taking advantage of this compulsion, MNCs have been selling medicines at a very high rate for many decades. Generic Aadhaar cuts down all the expenditures of the middlemen such as stockist, distributor, supply chain, wholesaler, etc., and provides medicines from manufacturer to end customer directly,” said Deshpande, adding that the manufacturing of MNC and branded medicines are the same only. But MNCs include high marketing and promotional costs that result in costly medicines, he said.
Deshpande said that the only difference in pricing is because of the long supply chain and marketing gimmick used by MNCs which result in high prices of branded medicines. Whereas Generic Aadhaar provides medicines from the same manufacturer avoiding all the other unnecessary expenses and providing it at a very affordable cost, he said.
In three years, Generic Aadhaar has expanded its presence to more than 150 cities including rural as well as urban areas of India. It has opened more than 1600 medical stores all across India. Through these franchises, Generic Aadhaar has reached 20 lakh people by providing them with healthcare services, the company said.
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