Share |The Problem
Have you ever had malaria or another disease and taken a full course of medicine but still remained sick? The problem of counterfeit drugs in developing countries like Ghana is one that could kill you. The WHO estimates that up to 30% of drugs in developing countries are counterfeit and a recent study by the International Policy Network estimated that over 700,000 deaths from malaria and tuberculosis are attributable to fake drugs. In a place like Ghana where many families have to sacrifice other needs to purchase medicine, counterfeit drugs reduce the confidence that ordinary people have in the health care system and make them more vulnerable to fake spiritualists and healers.
One person who is not simply complaining about this problem but has created a breakthrough solution is Ashifi Gogo, a Ghanaian Ph.D. Innovation Program candidate at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. His company Sproxil provides technology which allows any consumer to confirm a drug's authenticity with a simple text message. To check if a drug is counterfeit, a consumer simply scratches-off a code on the medication, sends a text message and obtains an instant response which says "Ok genuine medicine" or "No fake". The benefits to pharmaceutical companies for using this technology according to Sproxil, include reclaiming market share lost to counterfeiters, sending real-time offers at the point of purchase through text messaging to customers and locking down their supply chain to prevent product diversion. Sproxil provides a win-win for everyone, consumers as well as pharmaceutical companies.
The company which recently changed its name from mPedigree Logistics to Sproxil has won various awards including first place in the Nokia Innovators Competition, second place in the 2009 Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC), and a World Summit award for e-health and environment technology solution
Ashifi also co-founded nonprofit mPedigree based in Ghana whose mission is to protect patients and consumers in the developing world from fake medicines through advocacy, public education, research, and support for innovative technologies. mPedigree and its partners have developed an advocacy video "if symptoms persist. Below is a short trailer for the "if symptoms persist video and a video on the Nokia award.
What Do You Think of This Story
Have you had an experience with drugs that did not work? Do you have any other ideas that could deal with the problem of counterfeit drugs or have you been inspired by this story? Leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.