“Problem statement is quite unique in specialized medications”

Devashish Singh, Co-Founder and CEO, MrMed and Saurab Jain, Co-Founder, MrMed, shared their insights on the company’s journey so far, its operations and future goals

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MrMed, one of India’s top online pharmacy for super-specialty medicines, is working on a mission to provide timely medicines at affordable prices, removing the stigma associated with specialty medicine prices. In an exclusive interaction, Devashish Singh, Co-Founder and CEO, MrMed and Saurab Jain, Co-Founder, MrMed, shared their insights on the company’s journey so far, its operations and future goals:

BV LogoWhat inspired MrMed? Please share the journey and challenges faced during early days?
Devashish Singh: Saurab and I have been friends for a dozen or more years since we met in Philadelphia, USA. Whenever we met in India either in Bangalore or Chennai, we would discuss about the pharmaceutical supply chain – Saurab and his family’s area of expertise.
During the first lockdown of Covid-19, while discussing we realized something quite drastic happened. While overall sales of medicines and health products such as paracetamol, zinc and other immunity boosters where skyrocketing, the sales of super speciality medicines that are lifesaving and used in the treatment of cancer, chronic kidney disease etc. plummeted. The primary reason for this drop was that access to these medicines is quite limited and restricted to large cities.
And as we explored the problem even further supply-demand issues and marketing challenges created inefficiencies in pricing wherein a network benefit is seldom passed to patients. So, to solve for these problems we created MrMed an online pharmacy to ensure availability, affordability, and reliability in procuring super speciality medicines along with convenience of door delivering and payment method flexibility.
Saurab Jain: We launched MrMed bang in the middle of the spread of Delta variant of Covid in India, where drugs such as the antiviral Remdesivir and the antifungal Amphotericin B were in high demand. Within a few hours of launch, we were overwhelmed by the number of people that deposited money to our accounts for the purchase of Amphotericin B. We saw the ugliest side of the system and the true collapse of the pharmaceutical supply chain for a few days in the very first hours of launch. We had to refund most of the initial payments we received and rationed all the stocks we had in the fairest way possible to our patients. We can proudly say that during Covid 19, we were perhaps the only retailer that sold antivirals at over 50% discount, when touts and others were black-marketing.
Post these first few days of massive demand, we stabilized and started acquiring customers for chronic speciality conditions. At this point, we have done everything – from giving personal PAN and Aadhar cards to build the trust of the customer during cart conversion calls to delivering urgent medication late at night to testing tech releases – it has been quite a hands-on journey. And that’s where we derive our strength from. We continue to be involved (albeit less frequently) on support calls, delivery operations, product testing, marketing operations etc.
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Why is the company focused on specialized medicine and not on other medicines?
Devashish Singh: We believe the problem statement is quite unique in specialized medications. The supply chain, the pricing inefficiencies and the level of care required is completely different from that of general pharmaceuticals. Further, we did not see the economics in providing medications that you can easily get from local chemist shops.
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Challenges solved by MrMed and how it will revolutionize the specialty-medicine industry in the next 5 years?
Devashish Singh: MrMed has aggregated the supply chain of super speciality medicines and through direct procurement MrMed has created price standardization in a very obfuscated market. On an average, MrMed has provided discounts of 40% to patients, thereby clearly providing affordability.
Further, by being agnostic to brand or pharmaceutical company, MrMed has created the largest basket of speciality medicines – all specialities, all products, all companies. And through efficient air and ground logistics, MrMed has delivered to 1800 cities across India. There are very few patient facing pharmacies in India (probably just large hospital pharmacies) whose range of specialities SKUs sold is on the same level as that sold by MrMed in two years.
Lastly, by building world class web and mobile applications along with impeccable customer service and a 98% order fulfilment rate, MrMed has created convenience and a brand that patients can trust thereby providing accessibility and reliability.
In five years, we will continue to use technology to further strengthen these pillars – affordability, accessibility, availability, and reliability.
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What is the business model of the company and financial performance so far?
Saurab Jain: We are an inventory led business and a registered pharmacy. We have grown fairly well over the past two years to a 30 crore ARR with minimal marketing spend (approx. 1 crore per year)
We plan to scale faster through addition of services as well smart marketing campaigns that we plan to launch over the next few months.
We have also received FICCI’s HealthCare Startup of the Year 2022 in Tamil Nadu.
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How does MrMed stand out of the competition?  
Saurab Jain: I personally believe that our customer service, our empathy and our tireless operational efforts in putting the patient first have been our main differentiator.
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Ongoing and upcoming initiatives of the company?
Devashish Singh: We are tying up with integrated oncology companies to ensure that our patients can avail important and often overlooked therapeutic services such as nutritional guidance and onco-counselling at little to no costs.
We are also hoping to close a seed round of investment soon.
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What is your advice to founders who are trying to start their own pharm-tech startup?
Devashish Singh: I think it’s extremely important to get the financials of the business side right. In pharma, there are four metrics you need to always look at – gross margin, discounts, inventory and credit period.

*This interview was first published in the June 2023 edition of the BioVoice eMagazine.