mPedigree Electronic Resource System

Exhibition: Network | December 1, 2011 by

The Electronic Resource System, initiated in 2007 by mPedigree, a social enterprise based in Ghana, creates the transparency necessary to combat pharmaceutical counterfeiting. According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that up to a quarter of all medicine sold in street markets in developing countries is fake. The overall death toll caused by pharmaceutical counterfeits is unknown as the scale of production is still under investigation; however, the enormous cost to public health is undeniable. According to an International Policy Network report, counterfeit tuberculosis and malaria drugs kill an estimated 700,000 people a year; nearly half the drugs sold in Ghana, Nigeria, Angola, Burundi, and the Congo are substandard; and almost two-thirds of anti-malaria drugs in Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam contain insufficient active ingredients.

mPedigree has designed a verification system that works with drug manufacturers to place a unique code, recorded in mPedigree’s database, on each package before it is stocked on the shelves of pharmacies. Consumers who send a text message with the package code to mPedigree can find out whether the product is genuine. Drug manufacturers pay for the text messages, making the free service instantly accessible to anyone with a cell phone—a rapidly growing portion of the population. By partnering with drug manufacturers, marketers, pharmacists, and regulators, the Electronic Resource System helps recover the more than $200 million that the legitimate pharmaceutical industry loses daily to counterfeit trade. The initiative promotes better health through safer drugs by encouraging efficiency in the regulatory process and advancing market transparency. The Electronic Resource System is contributing to a future in which consumers in developing and emerging economies will be able to purchase medicine with confidence.

Designer: mPedigree; Partners: West African Health Organization, Hewlett Packard, Kenyan Ministry of Health (Poisons & Pharmacy Board), Tanzania COSTECH, France Telecom (Orange Healthcare), Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Business Council of Africa; Supporters: Ashoka, World Economic Forum and TED. Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, 2007–present


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