AI medicine shortage solution secures £625,000 investment

Pharmaceutical sourcing platform iethico has secured a £625,000 investment to help combat global medicine shortages.

The investment, which is split into two tranches, will help the company boost its headcount and complete the market testing of its platform. The second tranche will be used as the cornerstone of a larger series A funding round.

iethico will provide pharmacists with a platform that allows them to obtain difficult-to-access medicines. By linking pharmacists with wholesalers across the world through its platform, iethico reduces time spent on sourcing medicines and creates a competitive marketplace that addresses drug supply chain deficiencies, saving pharmacies money.

The company’s AI-powered solution will be able to give clear indications of medicine shortages and have the capability to predict future supply chain challenges – something which is not currently possible.

According to a study by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association 90% of pharmacists feel that medicine shortages have increased in the last 12 months, and now affect over 20% of prescription drugs. By providing pharmacists with better buying options, Midven recognised that the company has the potential to make a critical difference in a competitive marketplace. iethico possesses a strong management team with extensive experience within the pharmaceutical sector, which further cemented the investment deal.

Midven is a co-signatory of the Investing in Women Code and with the investment into iethico, the venture capitalist has backed its eighth company by a female founder.

Tony Stott, CEO and fund principal at Midven, said: “Drug shortages are placing increasing pressure on pharmacists, and disrupting patients' medical treatments, on a worldwide basis. MEIF investment will allow iethico to re-engineer the medicine procurement process, providing more reliable access to pharmacists and enabling better outcomes for patients.”

Debra Ainge, CEO of iethico, said: “Medicine shortages are a recognized major public health concern, occurring every day across healthcare settings, affecting patients and all stakeholders involved in their care. Most shortages are localised, pointing towards inequitable distribution and access rather than global supply issues and proper understanding of shortages remains substantially challenged by inconsistent and limited data. The investment from Midven enables us to help overcome these limitations, not only ensuring medicines supply in times of need but ultimately addressing inequality in access to medicines.”

Mark Wilcockson, senior investment manager at the British Business Bank, said: “The MEIF is committed to supporting the growth of SMEs across the Midlands. This funding for iethico is the perfect example of how this investment will lead to new advancements in the pharmaceutical industry making the company a pioneer in the sector. We encourage other
companies in the Midlands with stand-out business ideas to consider MEIF funding for their growth plans.”

Alun Rogers, chair of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, said: “We are pleased to see that iethico has been able to secure funding through MEIF to complete the market testing of its platform and create new employment opportunities.

“Technologies such as AI have revolutionised healthcare in recent years, and we are looking forward to seeing more companies like iethico develop innovative digital solutions that enable the work of healthcare professionals while making a difference in patient care.

“We would encourage other local businesses within the LEP area to consider the options available through the MEIF and also take advantage of wider support from the Stoke-on- Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub.”

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

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