ICT boosts fake drug battle
By Carole Kimutai, Nairobi, Kenya
Integrated telecommunications service provider Telkom Kenya has launched mPedigree, a service that will enable patients and medical service providers to confirm whether drugs are genuine.
By typing in a serial number on the medicine packet and sending it to a four-digit code, the service will generate a prompt response to show whether the drugs are genuine or not, at no cost.
mPedigree is aimed at boosting the government’s efforts to rid the local market of counterfeit drugs.
Mickael Ghossein, Telkom Kenya Chief Executive Officer, says mPedigree is part of an ongoing strategic move that will see Orange launch a number of e-solutions designed to respond to market needs and offer greater convenience to customers. “We are driven by the need for consistent innovation and as such we consistently review the dynamic needs of the market with a view of coming up with solutions to existing and anticipated challenges,” he said.
The announcement launching mPedigree into the operations of Orange across the continent was made in Nairobi earlier this year, following a partnership between the telecommunication services provider and the initiators of mPedigree, and comes barely two months after the government launched its flagship e-health strategy.
Statistics by the National Quality Control Laboratories as well as those of the Pharmacy and Poisons Board indicate that 30% of the drugs in Kenya are counterfeit, with their value being estimated at KSh. 13 billion.
“On an annual basis, the government continues to lose billions of shillings in unpaid taxes as a result of the illegal sale of drugs - some of which are not even regulated to be sold in this market. This has continued to pose a major challenge to our efforts to have an effective healthcare system,” said Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o, Minister for Medical Services.
mPedigree complements his the ministry of health’s e-Health strategy, which calls for the adoption of technology, in the running of health care systems, both at the administrative level and in the practice of medicine. “With a robust fibre infrastructure, there is no reason why we are not performing remote surgeries -particularly given the fact there are relatively few specialists in some areas of medicine,” said Nyong’o.
mPedigree will initially be used for two medicines: Flutrox and Knac; anti inflammatory analgesics. However, more drugs will be added onto the service as more pharmaceutical companies join the initiative, to stem the spread of counterfeit drugs in the country.