Battling counterfeit drugs with SMS messages

Patients and clinicians in Kenya, Cameroon and Ghana can check whether drugs are fake by sending a single SMS, and receiving an instant verification.

PwC’s Denis von Hoesslin speaks with Thierry Zylberberg of Orange Healthcare (part of France Telecom) about how SMS technology can fight the spread of counterfeit drugs.

How it works

Each packet of medicine has a unique number logged in a database. There’s an encrypted code (incorporating the batch code and expiry date) that can only be revealed by scratching the covering ink away. The clinician or patient texts the number to a server, which references the database to verify if the drug is real or fake.

Sustainable success

Success has been huge in Kenya, with thousands of messages relayed. The potential is vast and plans to develop sustainable business models will be underway soon.