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The Story of PharmaScout

Let’s open the fridge door and see what’s inside: here’s a look into how PharmaScout started, the journey to its final form, and the people it’s helping.

Like many niche products, PharmaScout was born out of a problem no one else could solve. Clinics, doctors and pharmacies needed a refrigerator to store their vaccines and medication that was:

  • Affordable
  • Low-energy and environmentally friendly
  • Aesthetic
  • Medically compliant (consistently maintaining temperature between 2 and 8 C)
  • Needing minimal manual labour
  • Quiet (no noisy compressors)

“We’ve listened to the customer, and understand their pain points,” says Greg Daus, CEO and Founder of PharmaScout, “If you don’t really understand the need, you aren’t finding a sustainable solution – or you’re just plugging a fictitious need.”

The need

New legislation introduced in 2015 was forcing a massive rollout of compliance in the pharmaceutical space: medical-grade fridges, instead of the domestic or drinks fridge most pharmacies were using. The reason for this shift was that, quite frankly, domestic fridges are not up to the task of keeping temperature-sensitive vaccines cold enough to still be effective. They needed constant manual monitoring (the temperature should have been taken every 10 minutes) and temperature mapping and calibration of the sensors a requirement- fridges can have a huge temperature range within their space. “I think the pain point for everyone is that it would cost a lot of money to be compliant,” said Greg, “and there is no return on investment with compliance. It’s a grudge purchase.”

Many of the available options at this time were exorbitantly expensive, used up huge amounts of power, and were definitely build with the word “commercial” in mind – meaning they were cumbersome and unwieldy. After a meeting with Clicks, one of the country’s biggest pharmaceutical groups, Greg saw that they were concerned about the regulation requirements and took it very seriously. Greg explains, “There were a few challenges, and a big gap between a functional fridge and something that is aesthetically pleasing. A lot of these pharmacies need a small retail fridge, they don’t want something big and clunky. A dispensing fridge needs to look good and be functional – and this was our initial challenge. Another big challenge is efficiency and electricity. We were surprised by how much electricity they use.”

A custom design

Clearly, the available options left a lot to desire. The aim behind the unique design of the PharmaScout fridge was to hit all these marks – and make sure it was attractive to boot. When designing the fridge, not only was the outside important, the inside was custom designed too for easy storage and compartmentalisation of medication.

“We went through 13 iterations and took a lot of effort, energy, and design changes to make sure our fridges consistently maintained temperature between 2 and 8 C. We had specific requirements in mind for production – pharmacists are specific, they are spending a lot of money, they want it to look good and work. People underestimate what it takes. There were a lot of lessons learnt,” says Greg.

“It was more technically challenging than we initially thought. Finding a quality supplier meant we had to go to three or four different factories in South Africa & China to find an entity who could serve our needs.”

Beyond the box

Now, PharmaScout offers not only refrigerators to purchase, it also has rental for those without the necessary budget, and temperature monitoring and calibration options. Asone of the products from Scout Technologies – a young, Cape Town based business established to initiate, design, develop and manufacture a wide range of ‘out of the box’ relevant technologies that provide complete solutions – PharmaScout has a dedicated team to assist in all the admin around maintaining this compliance, including installation and continuous monitoring and alarming.

Unjani Clinics

Once Greg had a product he was proud to roll out, he started to see the need for this bespoke solution in South Africa’s vast clinic system. As he explains in our article on this relationship, “We’re always on the lookout for initiatives like this, as affordable primary healthcare is vital for our society. We’re just pleased that we are able to make a difference.” This speaks to one of the core drivers of PharmaScout: ethical medical care. 

Taking care of the medicine that takes care of you

“We provide a trusted, and all-encompassing, range of cutting-edge technology – from wireless temperature sensors, to remote monitoring, to fridges – that ensures your medicine is stored correctly. Not only for legal and compliance reasons, but also for ethical reasons. So you can sell, deliver, dispense or administer medicine safely in the knowledge that it has been kept in optimum conditions,” Greg explains. “People are slow to move, slow to change, they think what they have is fine. Clinics, doctors and nurses have so much to deal with besides cold chain, let us take that headache away from you.”

By creating the first of its kind, custom, medical-grade fridge, Greg is confident that he’s making life a little easier for our front-line workers, but also making life a little safer, a little better, and little more reliable for the people depending on them to stay healthy.

See our range of solutions here.

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