• Friday, March 01, 2024
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BusinessDay

mPedigree, securing products against counterfeiting, diversion

fake-drugs

The mPedigree Network is the global leader in the use of mobile and web technologies in securing products against faking, counterfeiting and diversion. Partnering more than two-dozen telecom operators, Fortune 500 technology companies, and regulatory agencies in several countries, mPedigree has created more than a technology platform; they have helped launch a movement.

Experts believe the counterfeit trade is worth about $700 billion a year. But it is the trade in fake medicines, in particular, that has raised the greatest alarm: nearly 2,000 people are estimated to die from falsified and sub-standard medicines yearly.

By powering partnerships, as well as delivering cutting-edge supply chain transformation technologies, such as their multi-award winning Goldkeys app and portal, mPedigree renders service to the world’s leading pharmaceutical and consumable companies with the shared goal of protecting consumers, enriching their lives and transforming their communities through a cleaner, better, supply chain.

Counterfeit drugs are a huge problem in Africa and elsewhere. HP and the African social enterprise network mPedigree for instance, teamed up to help fight counterfeiting through a program that helps patients in Ghana and Nigeria verify that their medicines are genuine.

Ten percent of the global drug market may be counterfeit, according to the World Health Organization–and that figure may be close to 25% in developing countries.

“It’s absolutely imperative that people can trust the authenticity of the drugs they are consuming, and this system will give them an easy and effective way of doing so,” said Bright Simons, founder of mPedigree. Here’s how the system works. Upstream at the pharmaceuticals plant, HP and mPedgree’s partners created a scratch-off label containing a verification code. “We control the printing of the codes on the packet,” Paul Ellingstad, HP’s Global Health Director for Social Innovation, tells Fast Company. “It’s a tightly controlled and regulated printing process, protected at all stages.” Downstream at the pharmacy, the patient buys the medicine, scratches to receive the code, and texts it to verify the drug’s authenticity.

HP runs the hosting infrasctructure and the security systems for the service, out of its data centers in Frankfurt. Since mobile phones are extremely common in Nigeria and Ghana, and becoming more so everyday, the system reaches most people at risk. Bright Simons, whose mPedigree Network has integrated the many components of the plan, insists that building “an infrastructure of trust” is key.

Since its founding in 2007, mPedigree has delivered the technologies and partnership models needed to create a new kind of operating system for the supply chains which carry consumer products in emerging markets.

Their social change focus shows in the kind of consumer products they provide systems to protect: medicines, agro-chemicals, cosmetics, medical devices, electricals, and similar consumables, which are critical to the health and well-being of people everywhere.

Their systems, from cutting-edge technology to innovative partnerships, ensure that such critical products reach consumers in the right condition, protected from counterfeiting, diversion, tampering, and other supply chain abuses.

In markets, such as Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, India, and others, they support consumer goods companies to build a smart and robust supply chain for delivering critical products to consumers.

These smart supply chains are highly interactive, enabling customers to receive and respond to real-time information about the quality of the product at the point of sale. A basic feature phone is all that the consumer needs. For quality assurance, the consumer can text-message a unique code concealed under a scratch-off mini-label on the product to a toll-free hotline available across multiple markets. This ‘logs’ the product in the smart-grid on the mPedigree Goldkeys cloud, opening the door to a vast array of customer service, marketing, health support, and lifestyle support opportunities.

The world’s smartest consumer goods companies are realising the power of this supply chain operating system and the wide range of innovative applications they can deploy on top of it.

According to the President of mPedgree Network, Bright Simons, “We see a near-future in which consumers can assert their choices in the marketplace with freely accessible technologies, communicating directly with brand owners, to confirm to their satisfaction the quality of their purchases.”

“In our view, the 20th Century supply chain, in which consumers were passive recipients of goods, and at the mercy of middle-men, and brand owners struggled to get their message across, has no more place in the current century.” He says.

Bright further admonishes that manufacturers and brand owners should be confident that they will obtain a just reward for their investment and research efforts. Patients and consumers should not feel that every time they buy an important item, such as medicine or cosmetics, they are gambling with their lives. Regulators should not look on powerless as better resourced criminals lay waste to the health and well-being of consumers.

Bright Simons is a technology innovator, development activist and social entrepreneur. He is President of the mPedigree Network, a system that empowers consumers to instantly verify with a free text message whether their medicines are safe and not counterfeit. Prior, he was Director of Research at the IMANI Centre for Policy and Education in Ghana, where he helped steer the organization’s award winning research activities. Bright is a Member of the World Economic Forum’s Network of Global Agenda Councils and Technology Pioneers communities. He is also an Ashoka Fellow, TED Fellow, Salzburg Global Fellow, Tech Museum Laureate and a Brain Trust member of the Evian Group at IMD. In 2010, he was conferred with an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Award by the African Leadership Institute. In 2013, he was named to the Advisory Board of IC Publications, a leading Pan-African and Afro-Diaporan publisher.