Amazon’s standing in the logistics and retail industry needs no introduction and there are no two views about the fact that it has entirely taken over the industry with unprecedented growth.
Amazon never fails to amaze the world and this has been proved once again recently. According to company’s latest revelations, it has silently been planning to take over a totally new industry that is worth trillions of dollars; pharmaceuticals.
Nnamdi Oranye wrote that he could sense and was expecting this move since the latter half of 2016. But, when he stated it at various places, he was met with skepticism until recently, when CNBC report has confirmed what was considered a speculation. The report also revealed that Amazon had been working on it since many years, which means it has a comprehensive business plan in place.
Amazon has now openly declared that a general manager will be hired to pave the path for company’s entry into the pharmaceutical industry. Keeping in view the company’s track record, this should not come as a surprise.
According to Nnamdi Oranye, Silicon Valley has always nurtured the idea of connecting everything because it has a vision of connecting together industries and innovations.
Last Mile Logistics
Nnamdi Oranye further wrote that Amazon’s decision to enter into the pharmaceutical world comes as no surprise. The company has been making continuous efforts to solve ‘last mile logistics problem’. Also, with the help of modern drone technology, the company can deliver anything to any part of the world then, why it should not consider including pharmaceuticals into its range of products?
With offering cloud services to pharmaceutical and biotech industry and selling medical equipment and other supplies, Amazon has already been somewhat present in the market.
Rural Africa presents an example of the vision of e-commerce company. Drone technology has been explored and experimented both by the Amazon and welfare organizations in rural Africa, such as UNICEF. UNICEF has been running a test project in Malawi where the health workers use their smart phones to call a drone for collecting or dropping off supplies. With the GPS service, the locations can easily be identified. The drones are used in Malawi to pick up blood samples and to deliver medical supplies.
In addition to Malawi, the drones are being used in Ghana and Tanzania for picking up birth registration forms from rural areas and delivering them to the nearby Home Affairs office.
UNICEF is also looking for commercial investors to get involved in the project and pharmaceuticals should be the first one to do so. However, it seems that Amazon is going to take the lead here as well.
Red Tape and Regulations
As mentioned earlier, Amazon has already been somewhat present in the pharmaceuticals industry with the selling of medicines and health equipment. But, it will have to follow the laws with regard to medicine distribution, once they officially enter into the industry. These include selling medicines with the red tape and regulations.
Nnamdi Oranye has put forward an idea of how the Amazon’s system may function. Doctors, rather than writing prescriptions, would download an app and clicks on the medicine that needs to be given to a patient. With the single click, an order for the medicine would go to Amazon and the transaction would go through the patient’s health insurance. Those without medical insurance would have to enter their Amazon account details when an order is placed. By the time the patient reaches home, the medicines would have already arrived. Or you could turn on the GPS and let the drone deliver medicines directly to you so, you won’t have to worry about your medicines when you are on the move.
If this happens, patients will not need to visit a pharmacy to buy medicines. Also, there will be no need to revisit doctor if the patient has lost the prescription or needs more medicine because the app would allow the doctor to create a future prescription and put it on standby or create a recurring one.
Keeping aside the legalities, that are the only hindrance, the system would world amazingly. According to CNBC, Steve Kraus, an expert and a health tech investor, is of the view that every big technology company should participate in the $ 3 trillion dollar industry.
Pharmacy stocks in other companies drop with the news of Amazon’s entry into the pharmaceutical industry. But, according to Steve Kraus pharmaceutical companies should not be the only one to get worried with the news. Amazon is very likely to develop a direct working relationship with the manufacturers and with its huge buying power can take over the entire industry and the major chunk of customers.
Thinking without Borders
According to Nnamdi Oranye this is how African innovators should also think; to own customers’ minds and wallets regardless of borders. He is also certain that if the system that he has put forward is brought to Africa by Amazon, it would be of great benefit for the people, both in terms of healthcare and economy, provided the nations in Africa develop the right framework for it. Otherwise, it will engulf the entire industry, expertise and supply chains before the locals could realize it.
It is not impossible to develop the right framework; all they need is to move quickly, invest, involve the right innovators in the project and to come up with ways to connect everything together. This can be done within few years that Amazon is going to take to work on its new advancement in the US and other areas before entering Africa.