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Accra-based mPharma has disclosed its acquisition of a controlling stake in major Ugandan pharmacy chain Vine Pharmacy. The 55% share was previously held by The Abraaj Group as part of its strategy to finance healthcare in low-income countries that attracted investment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other major development finance institutions.
When Abraaj collapsed under the weight of fraud allegations that forced its investors away, it made funding for similar initiatives in Africa harder to come by.
This acquisition opens the door for mPharma to expand its reach to seven African countries following a similar pharmacy chain purchase in 2019 when it bought Kenya’s Haltons for $5 million.
The Vine Pharmacy acquisition expands mPharma’s African operations to seven countries and over 300 pharmacies.
Co-founder and CEO Gregory Rockson is excited to restore Vine to the heights it reached under Abraaj’s aggressive growth plan.
“I can tell you Vine is a very profitable pharmacy chain,” he said in a media statement. “It’s been a family-owned business for almost 30 years, and so we are really trying to use this moment to scale the business.”
Improving healthcare across the continent
In early October mPharma launched a new telemedicine intervention called Mutti Doctor that combines rapid testing innovations and virtual consultation with its pharmacy network to remove as many barriers to healthcare access as possible.
The company is said to be building Africa’s largest telemedicine network that leverages the potential of community pharmacies and primary care providers.
This system is made possible through a close relationship with Israeli-based telehealth provider and device maker Tyto Care and its range of exam kits and will enable digital adoption in the 10 000 existing physician consultations already happening in the existing mPharma network.
“We saw this as an opportunity to leverage our pharmacies as virtual doctor offices so that patients could get examined remotely during a virtual consultation. This is what makes mPharma’s telemedicine unique,” Rockson told the press with the Mutti Doctor launch.
When Rockson, Daniel Shoukimas and James Finucane founded the company in 2013 on the premise of managing prescription drug inventory for pharmacies and suppliers, patient intervention was not in the business plan.
Now pharmacies and the associated community healthcare is the biggest driver of the company’s rapid expansion across its homeland Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda.