Mobile services in poor countries: Clever services on cheap mobile phones make a powerful combination-especially in poor countries

Counterfeit drugs can make up around a quarter of all those sold in poor countries, according to some estimates. They provide a lucrative and lethal business, against which most consumers are powerless. “If your anti-malaria pill is made of any old white powder, you may not survive,” says Bright Simons, one of the founders of mPedigree, an advocacy group from Ghana.Mr Simons is not just fighting with words. Late last year mPedigree launched a mobile service in Ghana and Nigeria that could make a dent in the fake-drug trade. People buying medicine scratch off a panel attached to the packaging. This reveals a code, which they can text to a computer system that looks it up in a database. Seconds later comes a reply saying whether the drug is genuine. The service is paid for by pharmaceutical companies that want to thwart the counterfeiters. Hewlett-Packard runs the computer system and found a cheap way to print the scratch-off labels.To read this report in The Economist in full, see:
www.economist.com/node/18008202?story_id=18008202

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