Ghanaian entrepreneur Ashifi Gogo has developed a mobile-based technology he believes can help consumers and pharmaceutical companies fight back against drug counterfeiters in developing nations. But experts said his solution needs work.
Gogo, a 28-year-old Dartmouth College engineering graduate, co-founded Sproxil Inc. to end the “menace” of counterfeit drugs in West African countries such as Nigeria, where he said up to 80 percent of the over-the-counter medication bought by consumers is fake.
Gogo said when consumers purchase a drug protected by his trademarked Mobile Product Authentication technology, it comes with a scratch code that provides them with a number they can enter into their cellphone as a text and get an immediate text response back on whether the product they just bought was real or fake (read original story here).
Last month Sproxil announced a partnership with Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control and drug company Biofem Pharmaceuticals Ltd. to employ Sproxil’s anti-counterfeiting technology to cover about a million units. “There are other companies or people who tend to talk about the solution or advocate for it, but I can tell you that nobody else is working this close with a drug regulatory authority to implement this and nobody really has a product on the market yet. We’re the first to do this and we’re really excited about it.”
The World Health Organization estimated about a third of all the drugs sold to developing nations are fake and last year a report issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime predicted the global trade in fake pharmaceuticals would hit $75 billion by the end of this year – an increase of 90 percent since 2005.