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Africa’s Health Tech Startups Set the Example for Disrupting Traditional Retail Pharmacy 

Online pharmacies such as MyDawa, AddPharma, and myMedicines, as well as online storefronts of many brick-and-mortar pharmacy chains like GoodLife and HealthPlus, have brought traditional pharmacy retail into the modern world of e-commerce. Significant funding has flowed, with MyDawa leading the pack at over $9 million raised to date. Investors are hoping to cash in on the 34% of Africans who are active e-commerce users. African e-pharmacies have resisted discriminating between low-dollar urgent treatments and higher value medicines for chronic conditions. The strategy of Amazon Pharmacy to focus solely on long-term medications promises maximized profits but misses the larger customer need, one that is critical for customer acquisition. Building an online pharmacy business in Africa is undoubtedly simpler than in the US, with its healthcare industry complexity. Pharmacy benefit management middlemen, manufacturer discounts, insurance formularies and competition from existing mail order pharmacies introduce plenty of distractions from the premise of moving pharmacy transactions online.