Solid as a Rock: Rockson’s mPharma Receives Award and Knocks Out Competition
A company co-founded by Gregory Rockson ’12 recently received a $1.5 million Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. Read more about Skoll here.
The award will allow mPharma, a company that manages pharmaceutical inventories in Africa, to continue to lower prescription drug costs while increasing their availability throughout the continent.
Rockson co-founded mPharma while still a student at Westminster College after watching a documentary on substandard and fake medicines. A lightbulb went off after he reflected on the difficulties his family faced in Ghana during his various childhood illnesses.
“I had a number of medical conditions growing up, and I spent the majority of my time in the hospital,” Rockson explains in a November 2018 interview with Forbes.com after he was named one of the company’s “30 Under 30” for 2019. In the interview, Rockson describes how he decided a Pre-Medicine degree wasn’t for him. He switched his major to Political Science and heeded the advice his Westminster advisor, Dr. Carolyn Perry, who told him to doggedly pursue what he loved in life. Success would follow.
It turns out Perry was right. Today mPharma is taking a giant bite out of the pharmaceutical procurement industry in Africa, which Rockson describes as fraught with fraud, bribery, and corruption. “There are people who benefit from having that procurement power,” Rockson explains in an interview with Skoll.org here.“ And most people don’t like mPharma.”
Rockson’s company manages to keep costs low by being honest and putting patients first in an area of the world where drug prices are the highest, vary wildly from pharmacy to pharmacy, and have low inventories.
“We approach individual organizations, ask about their procurement, and ask if they want to use mPharma,” Rockson says.
Today mPharma manages inventory for a drug network of 243 pharmacies and clinics, serving more than 40,000 patients monthly. They offer patients prescription drug savings of 30 percent to 60 percent.
Rockson beat unbelievable odds in the corrupt world of the prescription drug industry by finding investors who believed in his mission. According to a March 2018 article in Financial Times, Rockson initially received $5 million from Social Capital in 2015 and $6 million in 2017 from a venture capitalist he met at the World Economics Forum in 2012. mPharma’s $1.5 million Skoll Award will potentially help force “other actors,” as Rockson refers to individual pharmacies, to reduce their prices.
mPharma currently services pharmacies in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.