Among the latest group of innovation award recipients is a non-profit organization in Ghana, Africa called, mPedigree. It isn’t clear where the name originated but mPedigree is somewhat like a drug sniffing dog – except that it isn’t a dog and it doesn’t sniff drugs. It’s a service. With mPedigree, someone who purchases medications can verify that the medicine is authentic. In Africa the drug packaging has a scratch off area that reveals a numeric code. A user can text this code to an SMS number which will then return a verification message. Genius. The infrastructure for the mPedigree system comes from HP – that HP. All the mobile networks in Ghana and Nigeria participate in the program. The award was granted because of the potential impact of this innovative technology.
That’s because the latest frontier in the drug wars is counterfeit drugs. These are pills, vials and the like that masquerade as prescription drugs such as pain killers, insulin and other medications. While the problem is everywhere, folks at the World Health Organization note that this is a bigger problem in Africa and other “emerging” markets. Fake drugs constitute ten percent of the global market but it is 30 percent of the drug market in developing countries. The counterfeit drugs may find their way into clinics and drugstores where patients filling prescriptions get the fakes instead of the real drugs. Obviously, fake drugs can be harmful to those who take them. It’s not only because of what the fake drugs may contain but also because of what they don’t contain – needed medicine. The estimated $75 billion counterfeit drug market causes nearly 700,000 deaths per year.
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