Mobile Tech Brings Medicine to Developing Markets

By William Kammerer and Anastasia Thatcher

An important development of the past two decades is the rise of nations with lower-middle income and upper-middle-class consumers, who have an average per capita income of between $1,000 and $12,000 at local purchasing power parity, according to World Bank country classifications. Globally, this group accounts for an estimated $300 billion of spending on medicines.

Life sciences companies are paying more attention to such emerging markets. The health conditions in the developing communities are shifting away from infectious diseases to noncommunicable diseases (NCD) and chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and respiratory disease. Eighty percent of NCD deaths now occur in this emerging market, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This is a call to action for life sciences companies to bring their innovative portfolios and differentiated capabilities to tackle these challenges. Mobile technology’s ability to break open access to medicines—safely and as needed—will be an area that’s critical to life science companies’ access strategy success. (Access strategy creates available, affordable medicines for the middle and base of the economic pyramid—locations many life sciences companies have yet to fully serve.)

In a world where more than six billion people have access to mobile devices and many developing markets have enthusiastically adopted mobile, leaders are tapping into mobility to augment traditional supply chain capabilities—beyond what’s happening in established markets.

Developing economies are uniquely poised for a digital disruption transformation because traditional technology and business processes were never put in place in those areas. In essence, the life science companies will have the ability to offer access to medicines in developing markets that will leapfrog over the old technology hurdles they experience in mature markets and take advantage of the newest mobile technologies. This will include:

Drug safety: Serialization and security technologies are increasingly popular as life sciences companies continue to combat counterfeiting and theft in emerging markets. It is estimated the global counterfeiting market is a $75 billion market. Serialization also ensures product integrity and patient safety.

Rapid disease response: In India and Sri Lanka, mobility has also been introduced into demand-sensing for the value chain. Local provinces are using bio-surveillance mobile monitoring devices to report and communicate Dengue outbreaks to central authorities.

These mobile devices have significantly reduced the reporting process time from the original 15 to 30 days, allowing rapid response for the provision of medical treatment and containment. This improved demand-driven responsiveness enables suppliers to quickly access inventory and fulfill patient demand in reaction to real-time epidemiological outbreaks.

The correlation between access strategy and strong overall financial performance is striking. Access strategy investments should be a long-term growth strategy for life sciences companies. Accenture research found that the top 10 ranked pharmaceutical companies for improving access to medicines in developing countries have outperformed their peers by 20 percentage points of stock price growth each year.

But this digital disruption is bigger than the life sciences industry. Industrial powerhouses realize that they can do more than just control their own markets: They can actually disrupt and establish footholds in others, often creating new business and market models in the process.

Many of these companies will use their new digital prowess as a potent differentiator. For instance, they may reset the bar for consumer interactions, provide unprecedented levels of supply chain effectiveness or develop groundbreaking new pricing models.

This is a trend to watch in life sciences, in the developing world and beyond. New business partners, such as nonprofits, governments and even communities, will work to develop new business models in order to create access that takes advantage of continued advances in mobile technology enablement.

William Kammerer is managing director in Accenture’s Life Sciences Supply Chain practice. He has more than 24 years of experience helping clients develop and implement supply chain strategies across retail, consumer products and life science organisations.

Anastasia Thatcher is the global lead for Health within Accenture Development Partnerships, a nonprofit business unit dedicated to international development. She has experience in partnership strategy, supporting more than 25 cross-sector initiatives across South Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.