Health innovations

How inclusive business models are making health accessible for all

Providing accessible and affordable medicines in India

Providing accessible and affordable medicines in India

Interview with Amit Choudhary, CEO and Founder, Dawaa Dost

Dawaa Dost aspires to make affordable medicine available throughout India, with a vision to help every medicine consumer save 50 to 80 per cent on their medicine bills by providing them high quality branded generic medicines.

What drove you to start your business? What were the needs and opportunities you were responding to when you founded Dawaa Dost?

Dawaa Dost’s founding team has closely been associated with several NGOs contributing to healthcare services in India. While working with them, they realized the challenges that circle the healthcare ecosystem in India. The larger issues observed were around:

  • Lack of access to good quality, affordable medicines
  • Lack of awareness around the medicines that Bharat consumes
  • Issues with respect to medicine non-adherence

As we dug deeper, we understood the scale of these issues and that there was no Indian platform addressing the above-mentioned challenges at large. Dawaa Dost is trying to address these challenges all at once.

We launched in 2018, and we are a leading platform for consumer healthcare in Bharat that aims to provide high quality, affordable medicines in the form of branded generics to over one billion Indians. Branded generics are generic drugs that have been given a proprietary market name. They may be marketed similarly to branded drugs. At Dawaa Dost we enable 50-80 per cent savings on Indians’ medical bills by providing high quality medicines from the most respected pharma companies selling generics. In addition to opening 69 stores across India, we have also partnered with more than 2,500 Kirana stores (local grocery shops) in Tier 2 and 3 cities to distribute affordable generics directly to the customers. 

In addition to this, our content platform, Medwiki, is globally the largest healthcare content owner with over 700,000 videos in six Indian languages. While the internet is overflowing with content related to health and medicine, the awareness around medications and their compositions is still low, leaving plenty of room for misinformation. With the help of Medwiki, we aim to drive awareness around the medicines Indians consume at the click of a button and help patients pick high quality, affordable medicine alternatives for themselves. Medwiki is trusted by over 30 million Indians today.

On the other hand, Karma Dost aims to improve medicine adherence in India. It is solving this problem by leveraging technology to develop highly effective means to improve medication adherence. The platform has created a reminder habit which rewards people for taking medicines on time. The returns are in the form of social rewards; for example, Dawaa Dost sponsors a girl child’s education for a day, plants a tree on your behalf, etc. We aim to deliver Rs. 75,000 crores (approximately US $1 billion) of yearly savings on healthcare costs in India by improving adherence rate by more than 50 per cent in the next three years.

Can you explain how your business model works? How do you balance providing affordable medicines with turning a profit?

At Dawaa Dost, we make money by selling medicines at affordable prices to our customer base via Dawaa Dost’s omni channel platform. As for Medwiki and KarmaDost, we are focused on building the community. We believe that the monetization will follow.

With the emergence of privatization, patented drugs have taken over generic ones, resulting in increased healthcare costs for Indians. India’s out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare is more than 60 per cent, according to Niti Aayog’s latest report; indicating the gravity of the situation at hand. With Dawaa Dost, we aim to provide high quality, affordable alternatives to customers in the form of generics, enabling close to 80 per cent savings on prescriptions. The company also has partnerships (partnerships/tie ups for selling the medicines manufactured by them) with the best in class pharma companies. 

Dawa Dost pharmacy stall
Dawaa Dost sells affordable medicine. Image provided by Dawaa Dost

Have your efforts been supported by doctors? How are they involved? Can they submit prescriptions?

Doctors are a critical part of a customer’s journey to obtain better health outcomes. Dawaa Dost is currently testing a model where we can work with doctors on a patient’s overall health journey. Our doctor partners help the customer buy medicines directly on dawaadost.com at the time of consultation.

So far, we have received positive feedback from the doctors for the work and the impact Dawaa Dost is creating in the post prescription journey of the consumer. Different doctors are involved with us in different capacities. Many renowned doctors have come onboard in terms of recommending us to their patients, helping their patients save a considerable amount of money on the prescribed medicines, while some help us increase awareness.  For those who want to submit prescriptions, they can simply do so by scanning a QR code and up-loading prescriptions. This is similar to how our Kirana network works.

Your model is based on a digital platform. How do you reach rural, low-income consumers who do not have reliable access to the internet or the technology you use?

While reaching consumers in Tier 1 cities was possible due to our offline stores and e-commerce, reaching out to customers across Tier 2, 3 cities and hinterlands was challenging. To reach consumers in rural areas, we have partnerships with over 2,500 Kirana stores across India, using an affiliate marketing model. At each of these stores, we have a QR code (which the customer scans) that helps customers choose from over 70,000+ medicines that we offer, and upload prescriptions, wherever necessary. Once the order is placed by the customer, Dawaa Dost enables doorstep delivery for these orders via our online delivery model/dark stores.
On the other hand, driving awareness around medications and their compositions was difficult in small towns and cities. To solve that, we built Medwiki to help people understand their medicines better and pick affordable alternatives to their medications. 

How do you measure your impact?

We saw that over one billion Indians don’t have access to a full stack healthcare solution – affordability and access to high quality medicines being a major concern. By enabling more than 50 per cent savings on 100 per cent of their medical prescriptions, we are committed to providing high quality, known brands medicines and affordable options to our customers for their lifelong needs. We have already created 30+ “Lakhpati” customers; customers who have saved more than Rs 100,000 (US $1,288) on their medicine costs already. Our mottos are “Every Day Right Price” (for the customer) and “Every Day Low Cost” (procuring and selling the medicines at the right price) by  building digital first solutions for every customer problem. We have 70,000 + medicines available, allowing customers to save more than 50 per cent on their medicine bills. We have enabled total savings of INR 203 million (about $2.6 million) for our customers so far. 

You described Dawaa Dost as a digital platform focusing on solving healthcare challenges for 1 billion Indians. How can you scale to reach 1 billion people? 

We want to reach a billion Indians by 2030, and we will tap into an existing resource network to achieve this goal. There are close to 15-18 million Kiranas in India that cover every nook and corner of the country. Our tech infrastructure, enabling QR code purchasing, allows us to sell medicines via Kirana stores.

What are your plans over the next few years?

We aim to have 500+ stores across India in the next 24 months, and partnerships with over 30, 000 Kirana stores by FY23. Dawaa Dost wants to be within the 5 minute radius of each Indian. We already have a monthly reach of 50 Million, which we aim to make 200 Million by December 2022. We want to save a billion dollars on overall healthcare costs by 2025. As for Medwiki, we have been viewed by 30 Million Indians and we want to reach a billion hours of watch time by 2025. 

Amit Chaudhary

Amit is a CA by education, and has had a successful career in finance. He has worked with companies like P&G, JP Morgan and Snapdeal before taking the entrepreneurial plunge finally with Dawaa Dost. Dawaa Dost is a leading omni-channel pharmacy retail chain for branded generic medicines, which is on a mission to change the consumer healthcare journey of a billion-plus population of India through its innovative, deep tech-based, large-scale and affordable solutions. The platform is built to provide a best-in-class pharma experience to its customers and is focused on solving the problems of accessibility to high-quality medicines, affordability of medicines, awareness about the medicines through its short format video platform - Medwiki, and adherence to medicines through a dedicated mobile application- Karma Dost, which together has improved the health outcomes of its consumers. Dawaa Dost promises to be that virtuous ecosystem where customers and consumers can avail quality medicines with a commitment to make savings of up to 80% on the entire Rx for life.


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