Sproxil to curb drug counterfeiting with Airtel

By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi

Sproxil, a venture-backed and social enterprise firm that provides world-class brand protection services in emerging markets has partnered with Bharti Airtel to combat the counterfeit drug market in Africa.

A cording to a statement made available to the local media by Edith Tsilizani, who is Public Relations and Corporate Communications Manager for Airtel Malawi, the two firms sealed the partnership in Nairobi yesterday.

Sproxil’s Mobile Product Authentication TM (MPATM) solution helps ensure purchased goods are not stolen or counterfeit by allowing consumers to verify product genuineness within seconds through a text message.

Sproxil CEO Dr. Ashifi Gogo acknowledged during the signing ceremony that building relationships with individual telecom companies and acquiring the short codes necessary for their MPA solution in each country can take a considerable amount of time as it slows down deployment. 

“By working with Airtel, we can get short codes in various countries different markets from just one company, streamlining the process and ‘turbo charging’ our expansion throughout the region,” said Gogo.  “For the consumers it’s a win-win – two advanced technologies working together:  Airtel’s network provides high quality, very affordable telecom service enabling consumers to take advantage of Sproxil’s brand protection solution, at no cost to them.”       

He says compatible with any tangible item; Sproxil’s solution is widely used by leading pharmaceutical companies to curb the multi-billion dollar counterfeit drug industry.

Now with the partnership, the two firms say the service will allow consumers to verify genuine Medications on mobile phones within no time through a text message.

The initiative is aimed at bringing drug authentication service closer to a population of over 450 million people in 17 countries across Africa.

The Chief Marketing Officer for Bharti Airtel Africa, Andre Beyers says indeed their goal is to bring affordable and easily accessible health services to over 450 million people.

“The battle against counterfeit drugs is a huge step towards this goal,” said Beyers.

He said whilst this agreement is a step in the right direction, he also believes that collaboration between all the stakeholders in the mobile health ecosystem is key to a successful and sustainable future.

The Sproxil’s service works by placing a scratch-off label on products, and then when consumers purchase a product, they scratch off the label to reveal a unique, random code. The code is then sent via SMS to a country-specific Toll Free short code, and the consumer receives a reply almost instantly indicating whether the product is genuine or not.

Airtel is providing services in 17 countries across Africa, which includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. 

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