Chinese company Guilin adopts mPedigree to fight counterfeit drugs in Africa


Chinese pharmaceutical company, Guilin has become the first in that country to adopt the mobile phone technology to fight counterfeiting of drugs in Africa, starting from Nigeria.

The company which is the world’s first producer of artesunate pre-qualified by the World Health Organisation says it will integrates the company’s extensive, in-house, brand protection measures with the Goldkeys© telecom and cloud computing platform provided by the mPedigree Network, a technology developed by Ghanaian entrepreneur, Bright Simons.

The SMS-based technology works when customers scratch-off a special layer covering a unique ID, which they can then send off in a free text message to a special hotline number for instant feedback on the authenticity of the medicine.

The service, according to Guilin shall initially be available to all 50 million mobile subscribers in Nigeria, before being extended to other African countries.

“10 million patients are expected to benefit from the programme in the first phase of implementation in the 2013 – 2014 operational year,” it added.

Counterfeiting is believed to be contributing to the emergence and spread of newer, more virulent, drug-resistant malarial parasites that are harder and much more expensive to treat, thus raising the risk of death for many patients around the world, the company says

In Ghana however, while no comprehensive study has been conducted, many experts believe that up to 20% of all medicines in circulation are fake.

“It is true that sampling activities involving some specific therapeutic categories of medicines such as anti-malarials have turned up results showing rates of less than 10% for substandard anti-malarials, and in some specific sub-categories even less than 5%. But the weakness of national surveillance systems suggest strongly that for accuracy any survey results must be multiplied by a few factors to compensate,” Mr. Simons told in an interview.

And according to him, a study conducted by the Business Coalition Against Counterfeiting & Illicit Trade in 2008/2009 suggested that the direct monetary cost to Ghana is in the region of $200 million, “but there are definitely second and third-order effects that may bring the total cost to even multiples of this figure,” he added.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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