GHANAIAN TECH FIRM MPIDEGREE FIGHTS COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS
By Paul Ndiho
The global counterfeit trade accounts for more than $200 billion dollars annually. The World Health Organization says nearly 42 percent of all fake medicines reported in the last five years were from Africa. But now the Ghanaian social enterprise technology company mPedigree is working with manufacturers to weed out counterfeit products in the African market.
Tens of thousands of people across Africa die each year because of fake and counterfeit medication. The drugs are primarily made in China, India, Paraguay, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. Nearly 50 percent of the fake and low-quality medicines reported to the World Health Organization were found to be in sub-Saharan Africa. Eugene Boadu, in charge of Corporate Affairs and Marketing at mPedigree says his company has created technology that will detect counterfeit products.
“Counterfeiting has become a global problem, essentially giving the pornification of various forms of technology. Just about anything can be counterfeited. From your favorite clone to you piece of shirt. But the stakes are higher when the item being counterfeited is one that has life depending implications such medicines.”
The worldwide counterfeit drug market is linked to more than 700-thousand deaths every year, according to health studies, making it the most lucrative trade of illegally manufactured goods. Boadu says mPedigree technology has been designed to empower patients — and save lives.
“Our company, a little over a decade ago, proposed a bold solution to the medicinal counterfeiting problem in particular that by allowing end-user authentication, we can allow consumers and patients to be able to sift out counterfeit from an original one.”
“We have seen about 2 billion product authentications that mean 2 billion times that consumers have had to dispel doubts and fears and have been able to pick the right product out of what would have been a counterfeit one.”
Drugs protected through mPedigree carry a short-code that is revealed through scratching a specific area of the packaging.
“When you scratch this, there are some numbers, and you send this unique I.D free via text message on their smartphones to the 1393 via SMS, and you will immediately receive a message to verify the drug’s authenticity.”
The fact that I can check and know that it’s genuine, it gives better assurance and trust in the technology. I was able even to get the expiry date so that I can confirm that – So this is very good.
Since launching in 2008, the mPedigree has expanded its platform to more than 14 countries in Africa and Asia. The tech firm has also diversified into a wide range of products, ensuring authenticity — and providing businesses and consumers comfort in knowing that what they’re selling and buying is authentic.
We have pivoted from Medicine, and counterfeiting to other areas like Agriculture. Where we are now working with different ministries of Agriculture to serialize parts of seeds and ensure that farmers are buying the right seeds and not buying fake seeds planting them and discovering down the line that they’re sold a knockoff version of the seeds.”
Experts say that the lack of proper monitoring of imported drugs in many parts of Africa, is allowing counterfeiting criminals to cash in on a continent constantly battling various diseases and poverty.