Thursday, 9 September 2010

Giving Consumers Power in the Battle Against Counterfeits

image First reported on by Afro-Leo over two-and-a-half years ago, the Ghanaian developed MPedigree is getting some international attention via the Associated Press.

MPedigree allows consumers to check the authenticity of their medicines via SMS. Each package of medicine contains a special code that the consumer sends to centralized number. The consumer then receives a reply stating whether the medicine is authentic, and thus safe, or a potentially harmful counterfeit.

This not only gives consumers some control, it also relieves some of the burden placed on strapped governments who do not always have the resources to fully monitor the large amount of genuine and counterfeit medicines moving throughout their countries.

MPedigree has the potential to be more powerful than increased IP protection and anti-counterfeit laws because it directly affects the one thing the counterfeiters really care about, the market. Imagine what happens when a consumer purchases a medicine and finds out via the MPedigree SMS the medicine is counterfeit. Likely, the consumer is going to return to the place where the medicine was bought and complain to the clerk that he is selling counterfeit medicine. The consumer will also probably tell others that the store has counterfeit medicines. The shop keeper will in turn complain to his supplier and quite possible refuse to purchase from that supplier again. As supply lines tighten for counterfeit medicines, less and less of the fake drugs will appear on the market. Well, one can hope it works this way.

Trials of MPedigree began in Ghana. Later, Nigeria picked up the program for anti-malaria drugs and is now expanding it to other types of medicines. According to the Associate Press, the EAC is looking into using mPedigree and has begun trials in Rwanda and Kenya.

The full story is available here.

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