Opportunities For Investment In Mobile Based Drug Monitoring

BMI View : Investment into innovative solutions that work to tackle socio-economic issues such as counterfeit medicines have the potential to provide companies with significant revenue earning opportunities. While counterfeit drugs are a global problem - their presence has been particularly difficult to address in Africa. Core reasons for this include poor infrastructure, unregulated customs and imports, the proliferation of illegal pharmacies and road-side medicine vendors, a lack of communication between health authorities, unclear allocation of responsibilities and resources among authorities, and poor law enforcement where clear violations have been noted.

Drug monitoring entails the connection of mobile networks to a central registry which stores information on medicine brands belonging to participant manufacturers, providing consumers with a service that verifies the authenticity of a medicine. The phone-based interception strategy does not allow the same drug code to be sent twice, which is a novel tactic in pre-empting the production of forged consignments.

For many patients in emerging markets, ensuring the validity of the medication purchased can be a major concern. The relative low cost of sending an SMS message to verify the validity of a medicine makes drug monitoring a cheap means of getting genuine medication to customers. We note that adherence to such programs is likely to be increased if the SMS service is free of charge to the end user as in some markets the cost may still be a considerable challenge.

BMI View : Investment into innovative solutions that work to tackle socio-economic issues such as counterfeit medicines have the potential to provide companies with significant revenue earning opportunities. While counterfeit drugs are a global problem - their presence has been particularly difficult to address in Africa. Core reasons for this include poor infrastructure, unregulated customs and imports, the proliferation of illegal pharmacies and road-side medicine vendors, a lack of communication between health authorities, unclear allocation of responsibilities and resources among authorities, and poor law enforcement where clear violations have been noted.

Drug monitoring entails the connection of mobile networks to a central registry which stores information on medicine brands belonging to participant manufacturers, providing consumers with a service that verifies the authenticity of a medicine. The phone-based interception strategy does not allow the same drug code to be sent twice, which is a novel tactic in pre-empting the production of forged consignments.

For many patients in emerging markets, ensuring the validity of the medication purchased can be a major concern. The relative low cost of sending an SMS message to verify the validity of a medicine makes drug monitoring a cheap means of getting genuine medication to customers. We note that adherence to such programs is likely to be increased if the SMS service is free of charge to the end user as in some markets the cost may still be a considerable challenge.

Initiatives in drug monitoring also involve the use of SMS technology to track and manage the supply of medicines. The system works by sending an automated SMS to healthcare staff at local healthcare facilities, reminding them to check stock levels of drugs. The staff then reply via SMS to a central database system, detailing stock levels. Deliveries can then be managed centrally to more efficiently manage drug supplies.

In a large number of emerging markets, drug supply management systems, characterised by the tedious and time consuming manual maintenance of records, have not proved efficient and drug shortages are common occurrences. Automating medicine supply chains can enhance record keeping and reporting processes and help to improve the access to medicines for those affected. The advantage of employing a simple solution such as drug monitoring is that it uses the most basic mobile technology - which governments can use to ensure populations have access to medicines and companies can use to boost brand loyalty and awareness and track product consumption.

BMI's Telecare Opportunity Matrix Identifies Opportunities For Investment

BMI's approach in assessing markets for telecare industry investors globally is twofold.

  • First, we identify the demand for the particular telecare service (in terms of the burden of disease, healthcare spending) which represents opportunities to would-be investors, assigning each market a 'high, medium or low' - which indicates the level opportunity for investors.

  • Second, we identify the level of infrastructure (in terms of Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) levels, ICT Development Index (IDI)) in place to deliver the particular telecare service which pose or could pose operational risks to would-be investors, assigning each market an 'excellent, average or poor' - which indicates the level of opportunity for investors.

We note that only the aspects that are most relevant to the type of telecare system being examined are incorporated into the assessment and each variable is weighted according to its importance in the provision of the service. Overall, the system offers an industry leading, comparative insight into the opportunities/risks for companies across the globe.

Telecare Matrix Findings

In our assessment of markets for investment, we believe that markets such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Tanzania, Sudan, Venezuela, Honduras, Nigeria and China - characterised by low affordability levels for pharmaceuticals, low per-capita spending on healthcare and whose markets are plagued by counterfeit medicines - demonstrate a demand of for drug monitoring systems. The question to ask once the demand for a telecare system has been identified is that is there a technological base present to support the system? Assessing the technological base present in these markets - we believe that high mobile penetration figures and low ARPU levels will facilitate the roll out and success of the mobile-based initiative. On the contrary, we note that markets such as the Canada, Japan, the US, Australia and Switzerland - developed nations with secure medicine supply chain systems - do not demonstrate a demand for drug monitoring systems.

In February 2013, Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) gave the go-ahead to PharmaSecure to provide its SMS-based medicine authentication services in the country. Nigeria already makes use of another coding and SMS-based authentication system, developed by Sproxil, which has been applied to products including GlaxoSmithKline's Ampiclox (ampicillin + cloxacillin).

Drug Monitoring: Markets For Investment
Country Tech Base Market Opportunity Country Tech Base Market Opportunity
Source: BMI
Cambodia Excellent High Russia Average High
Philippines Excellent High Peru Average High
Vietnam Excellent High Lithuania Average High
Nicaragua Excellent High Zimbabwe Average High
Iran Excellent High Iraq Average Medium
Indonesia Excellent High China Poor High
Egypt Excellent High Angola Poor High
Ghana Excellent High Croatia Poor High
Colombia Excellent High Costa Rica Average Medium
Sri Lanka Excellent High Saudi Arabia Average Medium
Tanzania Average High Hungary Average Medium
Pakistan Average High South Africa Average Medium
Bangladesh Average High Czech Republic Average Medium
Zambia Average High Slovakia Average Medium
Uzbekistan Average High Bahrain Average Medium
Uganda Average High Poland Average Medium
Belarus Average High Portugal Average Medium
Algeria Average High Kuwait Poor High
Honduras Average High Brazil Poor High
Kazakhstan Average High Chile Poor High
Moldova Average High Estonia Average Medium
Cote d'Ivoire Average High Greece Average Medium
Morocco Average High South Korea Average Medium
Thailand Average High Slovenia Average Medium
Romania Average High Italy Average Medium
El Salvador Average High Qatar Average Medium
Bulgaria Average High United Arab Emirates Average Medium
Jordan Average High Israel Average Low
Mozambique Average High Singapore Average Low
Kenya Average High Turkey Average Low
Cameroon Average High Mexico Average Low
Sudan Average High India Average Low
Nigeria Average High Belgium Average Low
Venezuela Average High Sweden Average Low
Gabon Average High Netherlands Average Low
Panama Average High Switzerland Average Low
Guatemala Average High Germany Average Low
Botswana Average High Spain Average Low
Serbia Average High United Kingdom Average Low
Namibia Average High France Average Low
Argentina Average High United States Average Low
Malaysia Average High Australia Average Low
Latvia Average High Japan Average Low
Oman Average High Canada Poor Low

Detailed case studies for drug monitoring will be published in an upcoming BMI Special Report on telecare.

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