Free consumer text messaging service targets counterfeit pharmaceutical market that causes at least 700 000 deaths per year globally.
HP and African social enterprise, mPedigree Network, have introduced a potentially life-saving service that targets counterfeit pharmaceuticals by enabling people in Nigeria and Ghana to easily check the authenticity of their malaria medication.
With the new service, patients taking a range of medication manufactured by May & Baker Nigeria PLC and the KAMA Group of Ghana can send a free text message to get an instant response as to whether the tablets or syrup bottles they received are genuine.
Counterfeit medicines often contain the wrong quantity of active pharmaceutical ingredients, which can result in illness or death. The system from HP and mPedigree assigns a code that is revealed by scratching off a coating on the drugs' packaging. This code can be text messaged by the consumer or medical professional to a free SMS (short message service) number to verify the authenticity of the drug.
If the drug packaging contains a counterfeit code, the consumer will receive a message alerting them that the pack may be a fake, as well as a phone number to report the incident. Pharmaceutical safety regulators in Ghana and Nigeria are working to ensure that the concerns of users are promptly addressed.
“Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a big problem for developing nations, particularly in Africa. It is important that we developed an African solution to an African problem, using the resources and technologies that are widely available and easy to implement,” said Bright Simons, founder, mPedigree Network. “It's absolutely imperative that people can trust the authenticity of the drugs they are consuming, and this system will give them an easy and effective way of doing so.”The service is funded by the participating pharmaceutical companies. May & Baker Nigeria has already begun supplying its extensive distribution network of chemists and clinics across Nigeria with medicines that are packaged with codes. The current deployment covers three of the company's lines of anti-malarial (artelum), anti-amoebicide (loxagyl) and analgesic (easadol) medication.
“Over the years, we have invested a huge amount of time and money in developing drugs which will protect the health of people around the world,” said Dr Joseph Ikemefuna Odumodu, chief executive, May & Baker Nigeria, and president, West African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association. “It's in both our and our customers' interest that they receive the full benefit of that investment. This system will safeguard both of us now and in the future.”
HP is providing the hosting infrastructure for the service, as well as the security and integrity systems, through its data centres in Frankfurt, Germany. mPedigree Network is providing the business process interfaces that allow pharmaceutical companies to code their products for the system and to monitor use of genuine and counterfeit drugs.
The service, which was recently endorsed by the West African Health Organisation, is expected to be available for other medications and in more countries in the near future. All GSM mobile network operators in Ghana and Nigeria are signatories to the scheme.
“Technology plays a critical role in solving many serious health problems around the world,” said Clive Brindley, Solutions Architect, HP Software and Solutions, South Africa. “While Nigeria and Ghana are the starting points for this programme, we are working to create a scalable infrastructure to be leveraged by other regions where counterfeit medicine is a growing issue.”
The World Health Organisation estimates that counterfeit drugs constitute:
* Approximately 10% of the global drug market(1)
* Twenty-five percent of the drug market in developing countries(2)
Use of counterfeit drugs is estimated to:
* Cause at least 700 000 deaths per year(3)
* Finance a $75 billion global counterfeit pharmaceutical industry in 2010(4)
Counterfeit drugs also have a severe impact on the pharmaceutical industry, with manufacturers suffering economic losses from patent and copyright infringement. In Nigeria alone, hundreds of thousands of medicine buyers can benefit from the technology as up to 6 million packs could be integrated into the service over the coming year.
* Post on Data Central, the official HP corporate blog, which includes an embeddable infographic containing facts and figures about counterfeit drugs, mobile adoption and health in the developing world: http://www.hp.com/go/datacentral
* Video interview with Bright Simons, founder of mPedigree Network: http://www.youtube.com/hptalks
* Visual representations of the mPedigree solution available for download: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hpnews
More information about HP's work in innovation for healthcare is available at http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/globalcitizenship/globalissues/healthcare.html.
May & Baker Nigeria
As Nigeria's first pharmaceutical company, May & Baker has for over six decades remained a key player in West Africa's healthcare industry. In 2010, the company commissioned the first World Health Organisation (WHO) standard pharmaceutical plant in Nigeria, and one of the largest plants in Africa. Having earned the much coveted NIS ISO 9001: 2000 certificate for its quality management system in 2008, May & Baker has become recognised as a pharmaceutical company at the very forefront of innovation in the region and across the continent. The company is the recipient of the prestigious 2007 prize of excellence in pharmaceutical manufacturing from the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health. More at http://www.may-baker.com.
mPedigree Network partners with the principal telecom operators in Africa, the leading pharmaceutical industry associations on the continent and Fortune 500 technology powerhouses to empower African patients and consumers to protect themselves from the fatal effects of pharmaceutical counterfeiting, which kills nearly a million people a year, and maims countless more, in vulnerable parts of the world. As a social enterprise, and a member of the Ashoka and World Economic Forum communities, we owe equal duty to our consumer clients, pharmaceutical clients, impact investors and regulatory allies. More information about mPedigree is available at http://mpedigree.net.
HP creates new possibilities for technology to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, governments and society. The world's largest technology company, HP brings together a portfolio that spans printing, personal computing, software, services and IT infrastructure to solve customer problems. More information about HP (NYSE: HPQ) is available at http://www.hp.co.za.
(1) “WHO Drug Information, Volume 20, Number 1, 2006” World Health Organisation
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