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Nigerian startups help fight scourge of fake medicines

ABUJA – Startups in Nigeria are helping fight counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs in Africa’s most populous na- tion, where the prevalence rate of fake drugs is higher than the global average 10 percent and contributes to several deaths annually.

The most counterfeited are drugs for anti-malaria, pain and antibiotics, according to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

To fight the flood of fake pills, the agency, in partner- ship with the startups has created stickers with unique

codes that manufacturers and distributors can attach to boxes and sachets of pills. Consumers can then use apps on their phones to scan the code and confirm their au- thenticity.

Lagos-based Chekkit Technologies’ mobile app allows patients to check au- thenticity and enables man- ufacturers to see the number of new customers using their products.

“They’ve (manufacturers) also been able to discover things like side effects, po- tential side effects their prod- uct could have on consumers

based on what people say about their product,” the com- pany’s founder Dare Odumade said in an interview.

NAFDAC’s director of in- vestigation and enforcement directorate Kingsley Ejiofor said the agency had in the past three years seized $4.8 billion worth of counterfeit drugs.

He said tracking apps were boosting the confidence of consumers “We currently have about 200 containers of coun- terfeit medicine at the ports scheduled for destruction. Just imagine the people that could have died as a result of use of such products,” Ejiofor

said, adding that China and India were the major sources of the fake medicines.

At Sproxil Africa, a mo- bile authentication firm, Managing Director Chinedum Chijioke said the company’s app empowered users to vali- date the authenticity of prod- ucts they were purchasing.

Biofem Industries imports pharmaceutical products and uses Sproxil technology, which has helped create more visible supply chain for its drugs and other fast-moving consumer goods, said Chief Executive Officer Femi Soremekun. REUTERS

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