In 2013, the International Policy Network with support from IMANI Center for Policy & Education released a report revealing that fake malaria and tuberculosis drugs alone killed about 70,000 people a year. This report further highlighted half of the drugs sold in Ghana as substandard. And so we ask, how will a patient know whether or not a drug administered to him or her is real or fake? Furthermore, whether drugs acquired from the pharmacy is substandard? It is out of such situations that great ideas are developed to solve a pertinent problem.
mPedigree is a Ghanaian start up using mobile and web technologies to solve this problem of drug counterfeiting. How do you ask? Well mPedigree loads into its systems the information of every pack of drug produced by drug manufacturers who want to use the mPedigree platform. Later, when a consumer buys the drug, he or she sends a free SMS message to the central registry of mPedigree to query the authenticity of the drug. Immediately, the consumer receives an automatic message from the central registry authenticating the drug. After a successful pilot project in January 2008, mPedigree rolled out a national program to help people identify the difference between substandard drugs and standard drugs.
Over the years mPedigree has partnered with the World Economic Forum, Technology Pioneers Program, Ashoka and some pharmaceutical regulators in Ghana to combat fake drug proliferation on the market. mPedigree has gained both local and international recognition from organizations like the Global Security Challenge in London, winning the start-up category and becoming the first organization from the Southern Hemisphere to win the award. mPedigree also won the Netexplorateur Grand Prix at UNESCO in 2011 whiles their founder Bright Simons was bestowed with a lifetime achievement award by the International Foundation for Africa Innovation.
mPedigree is helping reduce the number of deaths due to fake drugs on the market. Life is precious, so the next time you purchase drugs from a pharmacy look out for the scratch layer display and verify using the mPedigree platform.
Here are the three steps to verify:
- to begin consumers will have to scratch a layer, which will reveal a pin code
- afterwards consumers can SMS the pin code to a 1393 short code
- finally consumers will receive a response either confirming or denying the validity of the product
And there you have it!