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A mobile verification service that protects consumers from counterfeit medicines

  • Company
  • Healthcare
  • West Africa
  • 2011
  • Exited

The challenge

The global counterfeit drug market is a serious threat to public health worldwide. Up to 30% of medicines sold in developing countries are counterfeit or are substandard. The global counterfeit drug market is estimated to be USD $200 billion. Counterfeit drugs have led to a significant number of deaths globally. 700,000 deaths have resulted from inauthentic drugs for malaria and tuberculosis alone. Counterfeit drugs have also contributed to increased drug resistance in treating serious global diseases.

The innovation

Sproxil has developed a Mobile Product Authentication™ (MPA™) solution that enables consumers to verify that the pharmaceutical product they are buying is genuine. Consumers use a scratch card, similar to those used to replenish cellular talk-time, to reveal a one-time-use code on pharmaceutical products. They then send the code via SMS to a “911 for fake drugs” number which is identical on all cellular networks within a country. A response is dispatched immediately from Sproxil’s servers, indicating whether the drug is real or fake. If a fake product is found, consumers are given a hotline number to call and report it. Sproxil’s simple, efficient, and cost-effective method capitalizes on technologies that are readily accessible and easily understood by all levels of society.

The impact

Sproxil has set up Africa’s first national, mobile-based anti-counterfeit service in Nigeria, and has already has sold more than 5 million anti-counterfeit labels. Acumen’s investment will enable Sproxil to begin expansion into India and Kenya, build sales teams in Nigeria and the United States, and further enhance the company’s technology. Current customers include both local companies and global pharmaceutical companies such as GSK and Johnson & Johnson.