January 13, 2013
Nigerian texters to take on the drug counterfeiters
How mobile phones are being used to combat the trade in fake medicines. BBC reports.
... It said more than two-thirds of malaria medicine in Nigeria was fake or substandard.
Now the consumers of the medicine are being armed with exactly what they need to outwit the counterfeiters.
More and more packs of medicine produced by pharmaceutical companies have a small strip added to the packaging - similar to the scratch panel people are used to seeing on a mobile phone charge-card.
"When the patient picks the medicine off the shelf they scratch the panel to reveal a unique number or code," says the Ghanaian entrepreneur Bright Simons.
"The consumer takes out a mobile phone and sends the code to a toll-free number," he explains.
Standing in a market in Lagos, the founder of the organisation mPedigree tests out the technology.
Within two seconds of texting the number from a pack of anti-malaria medicine, a message appears on his phone with the word "YES" - a simple response meaning the drug is genuine.
"This allows even illiterate people to latch on," says Mr Simons.
"If they receive the word 'NO' there will also be a local number so they can alert the authorities about this encounter with a potentially toxic or fatal chemical masquerading as medicine.
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