Counterfeit drugs are a big problem in Nigeria. A Nigerian-American pharmaceutical company is using a new system to combat fake drugs in the country.
Each packet of drugs is accompanied by a scratch code with a 12 digit code. When a patient buys the drugs, they text the number on the scratch card and are then notified whether or not the drugs are genuine.
The company believes that it may be possible one day for counterfeiters to fake the scratch cards, but not the texting technology. The company hopes that it will become standard throughout the pharmaceutical industry.
The World Health Organisation believes that up to a third of the drugs now on sale are counterfeit. These fake drugs often have little or no active ingredients in them – or worse still, they sometimes contain dangerous chemicals.
As counterfeiters become increasingly sophisticated, it is getting harder to distinguish fake from genuine drugs. So the pharmaceutical industry is being forced to come up with new ways to prove their drugs are real.
Over the years, the Nigerian public has suffered at the hands of drug counterfeiters. Local pharmaceutical companies have lost business – and lost trust – as the counterfeiters mimic every new development.
The drugs companies hope that this new method of checking whether drugs are genuine or fake will help patients.