The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has launched the National Electronic Pharmacy Platform (NEPP) in Accra on Monday.
The national ePharmacy, which is the first national-scale ePharmacy platform in Africa, is a digital convergence of licensed pharmacies across the country and will enable Ghanaians to have access to prescribed medicines from their preferred pharmacies.
Purchase is affected when an order is made with a mobile phone through the ePharmacy app, website or a short code and the medicine is delivered to a requested location
Launching the NEEP, Vice President Bawumia expressed delight at the successful execution of the project and the immense benefits it would bring to Ghanaians in the delivery of healthcare.
In 2019, in line with the government’s digitalization drive, Dr Bawumia challenged the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana to take steps in ensuring that Pharmacy services were digitized to ensure prudent regulation of the services provided in the dispensing of medications and other services.
The Vice President stated that for the first time in the country, a National Electronic Pharmacy Platform had been deployed that would enable over 30 million Ghanaians to have access to prescribed medicines in a more convenient, cost-effective and quality-assured manner, scaling over counterfeit and inferior medicines.
The operationalisation of the ePharmacy platform is such that every drug request entered into the system, is controlled by a team of professionals and registered pharmacists, who, based on the legality and availability of the drug, dispense the medication to the patient in a trustworthy manner.
That, Dr Bawumia said, would not only make drugs easily accessible and promote competitive pricing but would also help reduce the sale of illegal drugs.
“Most often, people are faced with the difficulty of driving quite a distance just to find cost-efficient and reliable pharmacies to purchase medications. The situation most of the time has led to Pharmacy operators preying on the vulnerability of patients to inflate prices or offer fake substitutes for the medication sought,” the Vice President noted.
“The introduction of the National ePharmacy Platform is meant to safely and securely make available medicines, reduce the burden of cost and save time.”
With the ePharmacy platform linked to regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drugs Authority, Dr Bawumia added, it would be easier to authenticate medicines and also address other concerns in the delivery of medicine.
“I am particularly impressed that for medication safety, this has been connected to the Food and Drugs Authority database making it easy to authenticate those medicines being sold online are approved for sale in Ghana.
“The easy access of narcotic and dangerous medicines will be greatly reduced through the effective control of these types of medicines through NEPP.
“This, I believe will among other things address four key concerns in the provision of pharmacy services; reduction in the sale of unlicensed medicines, ensuring the confidentiality of health information, privacy of patients’ medical records, and minimizing counterfeit and sub-standard medication in the country,” he added.
The Vice President, who has spearheaded Ghana’s digitalisation drive in many sectors, underscored the significance of adding ePharmacy to other digital services in the country and its economic potential for both the pharmaceutical industry and the Ghanaian economy.
“The world today is moving at a pace never imagined before. Even for those who predicted that technology will disrupt the way goods and services move around, they did not envisage it will accelerate this quickly. In this short period, we have witnessed the digital technological transformation in education, retail commerce, building and construction, and more recently in healthcare, since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
“In the area of health, the conversation of contactless pharmaceutical service dispensing has seen ePharmacy emerge as a promising sector in offering convenience in pharmacy services for all, irrespective of location.
“The global ePharmacy market size in 2021 was valued at USD52.0 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 19.5% from 2022 to 2030. According to experts, this is due to rising penetration of the internet across the globe, increasing number of tech-savvy consumers, and rising consumer preference for online purchases with a heightened focus on convenience as key factors boosting the market growth.
“With the National Electronic Pharmacy Platform, Ghana will be part of this new pharmaceutical digital economy to boost pharmaceutical sales and generate revenue that can be channelled into research and other medical developments,” the Vice President noted.