Africa is one of the largest markets for mobile technology in the World, it has been said that more people have started using phones in Africa since the year 2000 than in the prior century. Nigeria is one of the largest Countries in West Africa and the telecoms market is hugely successful. The rise in mobile technology (whether real or fake) has taken off beyond the expectations of all. Nigeria is commonly known to be the largest African market for the sale of mobile phones, ahead of South Africa and Zimbabwe along with all other African jurisdictions.
Today’s installment however is not about the correlation between IP rights and mobile communication, it is about something else entirely which I’ll come to in a second.
Nigeria has a large and escalating problem with the sale of counterfeit drugs. These products are often much cheaper than the originals but also often of a much lesser standard, this particular issue can have wide reaching health repercussions. One can categorize the different types of ‘fake’ drug which can be found in the market into 4 groups. First is the total inauthentic, whereby you buy an aspirin and end up swallowing chalk, then you have the mimic, whereby the counterfeiter has attempted to copy the chemical formulation of the original and (usually) failed, you also have the sale of expired products and lastly where they again mimic the chemical formulation but use a much weaker (read- cheaper) dose. Any of these four are extremely dangerous to the consuming public, and I won’t waste all our time be telling you why. Basically take them and you’ll probably die.
So now we come to the great reveal (and I’m not kidding, I really think it’s’ great) GSK has teamed with a company called SPROXIL alongside NAFDAC to see if it is possible to combine the issue of consumption of fake drugs and the booming mobile phone industry in Nigeria. The result is a technology known as- SMS consumer product verification.GSK products will now contain a scratch off pin on the packaging. Upon purchase of the pills, the pin number should be sent via text to the number provided which is the NAFDAC health desk. Please reserve all comment about how the NAFDAC registration number can be faked because this pin IS NOT the NAFDAC registration number. It is a special formulation of numbers thought up by SPROXIL. After the text has been sent, within ten seconds you will get a reply saying either- Genuine NAFDAC product with the serial and NAFDAC registration number provided, or you will receive a text saying- FAKE, DON’T USE and instructions on what to do next. It is also possible that the text will say- this pin has been used before or pin not recognized.
In this author’s opinion, this could go a long way into curbing the issue of consumption of fake and also sub-standard goods on the market place in Nigeria. There are plans to expand into food stuffs and electrical items as well and it is my belief that it is a much needed initiative that Nigeria desperately needs. So what does everyone else think? All comments after the jump please…