Sproxil allies with Airtel to speed African expansion04-Sep-2012
Sproxil has partnered with mobile communications firm Airtel to speed expansion of its drug verification tool across Africa.
Airtel operates in 17 countries across Africa, giving Sproxil a ready-made platform on which to bring its SMS-based drug verification system to new markets. Working with one partner across multiple markets should help Sproxil avoid a big bottleneck to rapid geographic expansion.
"Building relationships with individual telecom companies... can take a considerable amount of time. By working with Airtel, we can get short codes...from just one company, streamlining the process and ‘turbocharging’ our expansion," said Ashifi Gogo, CEO of Sproxil.
Airtel users can text the random verification codes Sproxil puts on drug packaging to a country-specific truncated telephone number, known as a short code, free of charge. Sproxil then sends a reply to confirm if the product is genuine.
The partnership means Sproxil can go through one company, Airtel, to obtain short codes for 17 countries. Without a multinational partner Sproxil would need to work with telecommunications providers in each of the 17 countries to get the short codes its system needs.
Sproxil is already active in some of the 17 countries covered by Airtel, notably Nigeria where it has worked closely with regulators for several years. The collaboration is one way the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is trying to tackle counterfeits.
Jail for Nigerian counterfeiter
Meantime, NAFDAC received a boost this week when a man it had pursued was jailed for three years for importing counterfeit Fulcin (griseofulvin) into Nigeria.
Last year NAFDAC said all the Fulcin in Nigeria was fake as its manufacturer, AstraZeneca, stopped producing the antifungal in 2002.
The arrest and subsequent conviction could help limit supply of fake Fulcin. “If we can get the enforcement and conviction systems up and running, we can begin making some headway on detecting and deterring counterfeiters,” Gogo told SecuringPharma.
Sproxil wants to play a role in the detection process. Gogo said Sproxil recently saw a spike in consumers calling to report fake versions of one of its client’s products. Sproxil told NAFDAC about the trend in the hope that such information sharing can lead to further arrests.
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