The Vice President, Mahamudu Bawumia, has launched the National Electronic Pharmacy Platform (NEPP), which is the first national-scale ePharmacy platform in Africa.
The platform is a digital convergence of licensed pharmacies across the country, expected to enable Ghanaians to have access to prescribed medicine by making an order with a mobile phone through the ePharmacy app, website, or a shortcode, and have the medicine delivered to a requested location.
Launching the NEEP on Monday, Dr. Bawumia expressed delight at the successful execution of the project and the immense benefits it will bring to Ghanaians in the delivery of healthcare.
“I recall with fondness that in 2019, in line with the government’s digitalisation drive, I challenged the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana to take steps in ensuring that Pharmacy services are digitised to ensure prudent regulation of the services provided in the dispensing of medications and other services,” he recalled.
“This event is historic for the reason that, for the first time in our nation, we are going to deploy a National Electronic Pharmacy Platform which will 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 Vice-President added.
He explained that the operationalisation of the ePharmacy platform ensures 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.
This, Dr. Bawumia noted, would not only make drugs easily accessible, and promote competitive pricing, but will also help reduce the sale of illegal drugs, adding that “the introduction of the NEPP is meant to safely and securely make available medicines, reduce the burden of cost and save time.”
“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 times has led to Pharmacy operators preying on the vulnerability of patients to inflate prices or offer fake substitutes for the medication sought,” he noted.
“Buying online is easy and convenient. But if you consider buying medicines online, you need to be cautious. Unfortunately, many online shops and Internet platforms sell medicines illegally. If you buy illegal medicines physically or online, at best you risk spending money on something that might have no effect, at worst the medicine has serious side effects or puts your life at risk and may result in even death,” Dr. Bawumia indicated.
The Vice-President expressed satisfaction that with the ePharmacy platform linked to regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), it will be easier to authenticate medicines and also address other concerns in the delivery of medicine.
“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, the privacy of patients’ medical records, and minimising counterfeit and sub-standard medication in the country,” he noted.
Dr. Bawumia referred to data that indicated that the global ePharmacy market size in 2021 was valued at $52.0 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 19.5 percent from 2022 to 2030.
According to experts, this is due to the rising penetration of the internet across the globe, the 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.
It is in this direction that the Vice-President underscored the significance of the platform, saying “Ghana will be part of this new pharmaceutical digital economy to boost pharmaceutical sales and generate revenue that can be channeled into research and other medical developments.”
Dr. Bawumia further commended the Pharmacy Council and other stakeholders involved in ensuring the launch of the initiative.