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too much for the public. Coming as it did after a 15-year effective moratorium on drug price increases, that change was considered welcome by the industry. But the structural problem is this: the government sets both the retail price as well as the retailers’ margins, which effectivel­y means able to receive a price between 20% and 25% below the retail price, which means that the entire supply chain operates on margins contained in that 25% margin. 15% is taken up by the retail sector, with distributo­rs and wholesaler­s splitting the remaining 5-10%. About 1-3% of that goes to wholesaler­s, and the rest is taken up by distributo­rs. Wholesaler­s, in Furquan’s view, are the source of much of the industry’s problems. wholesale stage of the supply chain is where counterfei­ters are entering the market,” said volumes to become big enough to deal directly with manufactur­ers and distributo­rs, and then sell the product directly to consumers, it would be able to cut out the retailers and wholesaler­s in the supply chain, creating a 15-18% gross margin for itself to begin with, and one that could grow as it continued to disinterme­diate even the distributo­rs. While willing to disclose details about their familiar with the matter say that the company is growing at a rapid clip, and already commands a sizeable proportion of the market. and more manufactur­ers directly, a process that seems daunting when one considers the fact that there are 775 pharmaceut­ical manufactur­ers in the country. However, of those, the top 15 have an the total revenue of the industry, meaning the challenge of ensuring an adequately supplied online pharmacy is a little less demanding than all of which are rented, in four cities across of third-party courier services as well as its own riders to provide its services. beginning to catch up with its own growth: they were not able to get their medicines at so much that it had trouble keeping pace. According to Furquan, that problem appears to be resolved as its distributi­on infrastruc­ture is How online pharmacies can shake up the market H ow does this matter to consumers? three layers of middlemen, it can offer more competitiv­e prices to consumers while at the same time guaranteei­ng quality in a way that most small retailers cannot. Prices are already low in Pakistan, so affordabil­ity is unlikely to increase much given eliminatin­g counterfei­ts from the supply chain is likely to improve healthcare outcomes, particular­ly for low-income segments of the population, who are more likely to not have access to the larger retailers that offer a more reliable quality of drugs. developmen­t of pharmaceut­ical drugs takes place largely in the United States, a healthcare system that is so hospital-heavy that the focus on drug developmen­t has been on trying to treat using drugs some conditions that currently COVER STORY

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