Asia Blockchain Review recently spoke to Adebayo Alonge, CEO and Co-founder of RxAll, a platform that uses a proprietary molecular sensor device with a cloud-based, IP-protected AI algorithm and database of spectral signatures of drugs to carry out drug authentication. Alonge talked about the inspiration for establishing RxAll, the global scourge of substandard drugs, working with drug regulators, and his vision for the future of PharmaTech.
Asia Blockchain Review: Can you tell us about your inspiration for founding RxAll? Why are you interested in PharmaTech?
Adebayo Alonge: I survived a 21-day coma caused by a fake drug 15 years ago while growing up in Africa. I decided to solve this problem. As I grew older, I realized that the issue of substandard drugs is global, killing over 1 million people annually. It upsets me that people, especially the poor, end up losing money, their health, and their lives from consuming drugs while bad people make money off their misery. I studied pharmacy, business, and tech and worked in the pharmaceutical industry from retail through to big pharma and into pharma ingredients. Thus, I gained a full understanding of the pharma industry and where to apply tech to solve this global problem of substandard drugs.
ABR: Can you tell us about the technology behind RxAll? How are you utilizing Deep Tech and AI to authenticate drugs?
AA: RxAll is primarily a Deep Tech AI platform. We use the established principle of spectroscopy to generate spectral fingerprints of formulated drugs. We then train our proprietary AI algorithm to learn these fingerprints. Using a deep learning model, we are able to spot fingerprint discrepancies in drug samples that indicate contamination, falsification, or substandard quality. All testing takes place under 30 seconds through our smartphone app available for iOS and Android over internet access. Essentially, we bring the lab into a smartphone in your pocket.
ABR: How are you working with drug regulators to reduce drug counterfeiting?
AA: We provide our platform to drug regulators in order to enable real-time surveillance of drug quality across a country. We help them build a national spectral database of licensed drugs in the country that can be used by their inspectors, including hospitals and pharmacies in their country, for rapid drug quality testing. All scans are visualized in a surveillance dashboard that highlights where bad drugs are showing up. This data can be filtered by batch number, manufacturer, and location. Reporting is enabled in the platform, allowing regulators to receive reports as will as issue nationwide recalls and alerts.
ABR: What sets RxAll apart from other companies?
AA: We are solving an immense global problem that kills 1 million people across the world — especially those living in poor countries. Our focus on using a scientific solution to solve a social impact problem, rather than pursuing more lucrative applications, is what differentiates us. Any one member of my team has the credentials to pursue more lucrative opportunities, but we decided that saving lives using our platform is a more meaningful use of our time, resources, and talent.
ABR: What is the secret to your success in achieving sales orders of US$2.6 million within 3 months of your product launch?
AA: There is pent-up demand in this application area. The existing alternatives have been undisrupted for 20 years and pricing starts at US$50,000 — way out of reach of many poor countries and individuals. Our goal has been to build a coalition around our platform and to remain focused on a beachhead segment i.e. the regulators, while allowing existing distributors to plug into the new market opportunity. This combination of existing, pent-up demand and coalition building has helped to generate a lot of orders.
ABR: Can you tell us about your business expansion to Southeast Asia? In your opinion, what is the potential for PharmaTech in the region?
AA: We have a distribution partner in Myanmar. We are speaking with a few potential partners for Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. If anyone is interested in becoming our partner, please contact us — we need as many partners as possible to solve this problem of substandard drugs. In Southeast Asia, upwards of 13% of drugs are substandard, killing thousands annually in the region. A recent report from the London School of hygiene and topical medicine covered the spread of drug-resistant malaria. A lot of drug resistance is often caused by substandard drugs. So there is a real need to secure the drug supply chain in Southeast Asia.
With regards to PharmaTech’s potential in Southeast Asia — there is huge potential. Most of the therapeutic interventions in medicine require pharmaceuticals. Leveraging tech can improve discovery, access, and affordability — the big problems developing regions like Southeast Asia face. Across these three need areas, we are working in the region through our platforms like RxAll (rapid drug quality testing), RxRate (discovery of high-quality dispensers), and StorsApp (pharma network for drug inventory management, distribution, purchasing, and advertising). We are investing in the region because the gaps and potential for impact are huge.
ABR: What are the new developments that we can expect to see from RxAll in 2019-2020? What is your roadmap going forward?
AA: We will be expanding into more Southeast Asian countries with a focus on building national databases and getting hospitals and pharmacies across the region to use the platform. Furthermore, we are launching RxRate, a platform for patients to find and order drugs from highly rated dispensers near them. Our related StorsApp product will enable pharmacies to automate and connect them with distributors, advertisers, and patients within the market network. We are excited about the huge impact potential in front of us.
ABR: In your opinion, what is the future of PharmaTech? How will it change our lives?
AA: PharmaTech will democratize access to lifesaving drugs for everyone and end the current unfair disparities in the quality of care received by the poor. Access to good quality healthcare should not be determined by your wealth; it should be determined by your humanity. All humans should matter when it comes to good healthcare.
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