kenyan Woman starts online pharmacy for shy customers

Kenya Online Pharmacy director Nicoletta Mungai.

Kenya Online Pharmacy director Nicoletta Mungai.

After working for five years in the pharmaceutical industry, Nicoletta Mungai felt most people weren’t getting confidential consultation as they craved and many could not ask for some drugs over the counter.

Having experience in e-marketing, Ms Mungai started an online chemist three years ago, which she says has changed the perception of people who relied on physical consultations.

Now her days are busy interacting with customers online, many of whom she says seek medical advice discreetly as they need the confidentiality derived from online consultations.

“The healthcare industry has changed with modern times in the digital age of online consulting and e-commerce” says Ms Mungai

With the varied medical conditions that people suffer from, clients are often looking for a safe private and discrete way of obtaining medical treatment. There are many who want private consulting for ailments without having to reveal their identity, Ms Mugai says.

“We have clients who shy off purchasing personal drugs and especially enhancement drugs, which we recommend as herbal supplements,” she says.

Patients are also going online to search for medication that they can buy without the hustle of going into a chemist. The online website Kenya Online Pharmacy has different links giving medical and nutritional information to consumers.

“This is to help in medical adherence for patients and promote medical e-commerce in Kenya,” says Ms Mungai.

Her target market has been Nairobi, but the demand has moved to other cities, with her major clients being men enquiring on various sexual enhancement products.

Most people who visit the site say they stumbled upon the page while searching for pharmacies online, and are satisfied with the confidentiality it offers.

Ms Mungai also gets orders from foreigners and tourists who want medication delivered to them on arrival, many of whom are on transit to other countries and need vaccination.

Although she is a chemist, when she gets orders for chronic illnesses, she connects clients with doctors in the various fields for better diagnosis and the right prescription. The first consultation is free, with subsequent questions to a doctor charged at current market rates.

Free delivery

Delivery of medication is free in the Nairobi central business district. The website offers a facility where clients write to doctors when they have doubts regarding surgery or any general health conditions.

“Most times patients wish they could consult a doctor from home before they rush to hospital or even have a second opinion without having to see another doctor,” she says.

She adds that they often get patients who are recovering from home and need to see a doctor or to have medication delivered to them. However, to buy certain drugs, valid doctor prescription, medical records and identification are required, especially for chronic illnesses.

A report by Pfizer and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society showed that the number of people buying prescription drugs online without a prescription is increasing significantly.

Dr Josphat Njiru a general practitioner at the Mater Hospital, says that getting medication online should only be done for to patients if a prescription is produced to authenticate the sale. This he says will curb the number of self-prescribed cases by patients and wrong self medicating.

Online booking is also done on the site in case a client feels the need to meet a doctor face-to-face. Ms Mungai also acts as a bridge between the doctor and the patient whenever a patient needs further examination done before they can buy medication.

“I have established associations with certain doctors whom I often refer my clients to,” she says.

The website also targets people in the diaspora who have ailing relatives in need of medication to be delivered to their homes.

Internet users can also access other services the website offers like the latest medical news and articles on sexology, diet, sports, dermatology and alternative medicine.

In 2011, the company liaised with AMREF Flying Doctors to offer temporary membership to tourists while in the country.

Ms Mungai also sources for medication and medical or surgical equipment not found locally for clients.

-Business Daily



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