Drugmaker taps mPedigree for antimalarial authentication

mPedigree verificationChina's Guilin Pharmaceuticals has started protecting its Artesun antimalarial drug in Nigeria using a text message system developed by mPedigree.

Guilin is a major supplier of antimalarials to emerging markets and says it was the first supplier of artesunate to be pre-qualified by the World Health Organisation, indicating that its Artesun product meets quality standards.

The SMS-based verification platform will allow buyers of Guilin's Artesun range of products to verify their purchases using a scratch-off panel that reveals a unique identification code. The code can be sent via text message to a dedicated number for a rapid verdict on whether the pack is authentic.

"This new technology leverages the most empowering device in Africa today - the mobile phone -as an additional layer of a powerful patient-empowerment strategy that includes our safety and quality feedback management system," said Guilin vice president Lily Su.

Antimalarials are under constant threat of counterfeiting in Africa, with a report in the Malaria Journal last year giving a snapshot of the extent of the problem in eight countries.

Meanwhile sampling data from Africa, India and other emerging markets compiled by researchers led by Roger Bate found a quality failure rate of 19 per cent for antimalarials, although this included substandard and degraded drugs as well as counterfeits.

The service will initially be available to mobile phone subscribers in Nigeria but will eventually be rolled out in other African nations. Around 10 million patients are expected to benefit from the programme in the first phase of implementation in the 2013-2014 operational year, according to Guilin.

The system makes use of the GoldKeys telecoms and cloud computing provided by the mPedigree Network, and is the first time the platform has been deployed in the Chinese pharmaceutical chain.

Guilin has been expanding quickly in Africa and other emerging markets, opening offices in Myanmar, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda as well as a subsidiary company in Ghana.

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