Axmed raises $2 million to transform access to critical medicines in low income countries

For too long, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have been disproportionately affected by global health disparities. Despite accounting for over 80% of the world's population and more than 90% of its disease burden, they only represent 6% of global pharmaceutical revenue.

The quest for equitable access to high-quality, affordable medicines is a formidable challenge, and addressing this issue is now more crucial than ever. In a significant move, Axmed, a two-sided B2B marketplace platform, has announced a $2 million seed funding round to combat this disparity. This investment is designed to enhance the affordability, availability, and distribution of essential and innovative medicines in underserved areas.

The recent funding round was spearheaded by Founderful and builds on an earlier $5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, bringing the total funds raised to $7 million. These resources will support Axmed's expansion, particularly in enhancing its engineering and commercial teams, and in advancing its technology infrastructure to commence operations in strategically chosen markets within Africa and the Caribbean.

Axmed’s B2B marketplace platform refines the procurement process for healthcare providers in emerging and growth markets, serving public, third-sector, and private organisations. It consolidates demand for both off-patent and patented medicines, thus facilitating larger, more cost-effective order volumes for manufacturers and simultaneously improving buyer leverage on cost and availability. The platform also simplifies the process by curating and consolidating Requests for Proposals and efficiently mapping out supply logistics. This method fosters a win-win situation: it reduces the barriers to accessing expensive medicines for patients and providers and allows manufacturers to broaden their presence in underserved markets.

The founding team of Axmed brings a significant wealth of expertise and commitment, boasting over 30 years of combined experience in healthcare, finance, and public-private partnerships. CEO Emmanuel Akpakwu, formerly Chief Commercial Officer at Novartis AG’s Sub-Saharan Africa operations, is accompanied by Felix Ohnmacht and Sofia Radley-Searle, who have previously held significant roles at Novartis and GSK, respectively. Together, they share a resolute vision to confront healthcare inequity head-on.

Emmanuel Akpakwu, CEO of Axmed commented: "We are not merely developing a medicines platform; we are creating a bold new vision for the future of medicine accessibility. This vision not only empowers buyers but also unlocks the full potential of growth markets, allowing suppliers to compete effectively.”

This seed round propels Axmed into its next phase of strategic expansion, driving significant advancements in building out the engineering and business development teams, whilst preparing the platform for launch. Through targeted deployment of funds, Axmed will enhance its marketplace technology and forge alliances with key healthcare stakeholders to ensure a reliable supply of critical medicines.

"We're delighted to back this outstanding team," added Lukas Weder, Founding Partner at Founderful. "The team's commitment and enthusiasm for addressing this important challenge is inspiring. We have every confidence in their ability to reshape the $140 billion LMIC pharma market, improving access to medicines for over 6 billion individuals."

Axmed's mission extends beyond technology; it's about forging critical partnerships and ensuring a steady flow of crucial medicines to those in need. Despite LMICs' small share of the global pharmaceutical market, they represent a burgeoning $140 billion sector, with Africa alone accounting for over $43 billion in pharmaceutical opportunity. The urgency for accessible and affordable healthcare solutions has never been more evident, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the need for a coordinated and sustainable medicines marketplace tailored to LMICs.

"Industry leaders and healthcare providers are aligned in their support for Axmed's model, recognising its potential to significantly enhance medicine accessibility in Low and Middle-Income Countries. "Axmed's approach could fundamentally change how patients obtain treatments," remarked Roselyne Opel, Head of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Pooled Procurement Initiative (OECS PPI). "We look forward to seeing their platform reshape access, empowering buyers and strengthening supply of lifesaving therapies to a broader patient base."

James Nyamongo, CEO of the Nairobi Hospital, Kenya added: “Axmed’s approach not only empowers us to gain access to life-saving medicines affordably, it also fosters real competition that raises the quality bar, bringing the highest quality local and global manufacturers to our doorstep.”

Thibaud Lefort, Head of Operations for Sanofi’s Global Health Unit, added: "Axmed’s model presents a powerful opportunity to deliver much needed positive change across global health. We are eager to see their platform transform the access landscape, improving supplier-ability to reach more patients with lifesaving therapies, especially in underserved environments.”

As the deadline for the UN Sustainable Development Goals approaches, Emmanuel Akpakwu reaffirms Axmed's commitment: "We are driven by the belief that radical solutions are necessary to build on the progress being made across the various facets of global health. Axmed represents such a solution, and we are eager to make a positive, lasting impact on the world."