mPedigree and HP start SMS verification roll-out in Nigeria, Ghana

May & Baker imageHewlett-Packard and mPedigree Network have rolled out a text message-based medicine authentication system in Nigeria and Ghana.

With the new service, patients taking a range of medication manufactured by May & Baker Nigeria and Ghana's  KAMA Group can send a free text message to get an instant response as to whether the tablets or syrup bottles they received are genuine.

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 number to verify the authenticity of the drug, said HP in a statement.
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.

"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," commented Bright Simons of mPedigree Network.

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. All GSM mobile network operators in Ghana and Nigeria are signatories to the scheme.

The service is funded by the participating pharmaceutical companies. May & Baker Nigeria has already begun supplying its distribution network of chemists and clinics across Nigeria with medicines that are packaged with codes.

The current deployment covers three of the company antimalarials including Artelum (artemether and lumefantrine), the anti-amoebicide Loxagyl (metronidazole) and an analgesic product Easadol (paracetamol).

Dr. Joseph Ikemefuna Odumodu, chief executive of May & Baker Nigeria and president of the West African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, said: "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," he added.

The service is expected to be available for other medications and in more countries in the near future.

"Technology plays a critical role in solving many serious health problems around the world," said Gabriele Zedlmayer, vice president, Office of Global Social Innovation at HP. "While Nigeria and Ghana are the starting points for this program, we are working to create a scalable infrastructure to be used by other regions where counterfeit medicine is a growing issue."

mPedigree said earlier this month it is gearing up to start a pilot trial of the SMS authentication system in Kenya.

Related articles:

Kenya will pilot mPedigree medicine validation system

mPedigree wins 2010 Global Security Challenge

HP helps mPedigree test its SMS drug verification


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