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Pharmacies can aid society, but can a society trust a pharmacy with its healthcare? In Pakistan, we are used to pharmacies where medicines sell like groceries, but with the recent rise of pharmacy chains, change might be around the corner.

Here is an interview of Meri Pharmacy’s lead, Adil Naeem, for insights about the brand’s mission, vision, and belief in ‘Healthcare Pe No Compromise.’

Marie Stopes is a local social enterprise specialising in providing maternal and child healthcare services to the underserved in our country. This project was born to generate a basket of revenue that would reinvest into social causes – a startup whose foundation is to give back to the people of Pakistan, especially the most vulnerable. They also have several other existing projects, and Meri Pharmacy is one of them.

On how he came up with the idea of Meri Pharmacy, Adil responded: “I did not come up with the idea by myself. I am grateful that my team found this opportunity, worked out the practicalities, and decided to experiment at the right time.

“I unflinchingly believe in being data-driven, and when we ran numbers, it was obvious that this was a significant opportunity in an untapped market. With the proper mission, we believed we could start contributing to society through Meri Pharmacy.”

How is it different from the prevailing pharmacies around us?

Adil: “We are not another general store/pharmacy. Our focus is (and will remain on) healthcare products and related services. Our hybrid approach positions toward solving the accessibility problem. Essentially, a network of pharmacies that are virtually linked.

“And with the right team, technology, and partnerships, we can provide the public with the best products and services. The idea is to keep solving actual problems regarding healthcare, especially within the supply chain of pharmaceuticals.”

But has Pakistan, and its people gained enough knowledge and trust in technology/e-commerce over retail?

Adil: “The way Pakistan stands, no business can be purely tech-based. However, startups can leap ahead if they are tech-enabled. What I mean by that is brick-and-mortar stores need to be connected with the technology to address gaps. We initiated this model about a year or so ago, and it has been working for us.”

Panadol’s shortage in the country took news outlets by storm, resulting in people trying to hoard the medication and selling it with a higher price tag.

Adil: “Panadol’s case became a concern because of a lack of awareness. Panadol is the brand name for paracetamol (manufactured by GSK). Paracetamol sells under various brand names in Pakistan, e.g., Calpol, Disprol, Boschtamol, etc.

“While Panadol may have been short in the market, paracetamol wasn’t. If our people had been educated, with the proper knowledge, by certified pharmacist, we could have easily addressed Panadol’s unavailability.

“At Meri Pharmacy, we consider educating the masses essential to our customer service journey.”

Like every business, Meri Pharmacy wants to sustain its competitive edge.

With all the work Meri Pharmacy is doing, we wanted to know if they are planning to explore and expand into different markets, considering how new brands are entering the same vertical and giving them competition.

Adil: “Pakistan’s Retail Pharmaceutical market was valued at around $3.5 billion by the end of last year. For such an extensive and diverse market, we don’t see brands as competition but as opportunities. We are not competing to outdo any brand but instead focused on how we can add value to this vertical.

“And speaking of expanding, you can’t stop at 15 or 20 stores alone, so yes - we are planning to expand further.

“Karachi is the epicenter to test any business model. Each of Karachi’s regions uniquely deals with different demographics and socio-economic backgrounds. If you excel here, you can pick up any model (from one of the respective regions) and take it to a similarly characterized city (across the country).

“We should be well-equipped to understand our target audiences and how to target them. This comes down to having enough data to opt for the right approach. And you only must be right once.

“Our goal is to build a managed marketplace, which will not only provide pharmaceutical facilities but with the right partnerships, we can take care of other health services too.

“The vision will always be to simplify healthcare and, more importantly, become an integral part of our community.”

With Meri Pharmacy, Adil and his team not only introduced the concept of a hybrid pharmacy but they brought the importance of simplifying healthcare into the light.


Comments are closed.

Nadeem Mar 20, 2023 08:44pm
Adil is working very hard
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