Motivated by an interest in technology and global health innovations, our SEID team worked with Sproxil to improve consumer utilization of their mobile technology service to combat drug counterfeiting in Nigeria. The technology allows consumers to authenticate their pharmaceutical purchase by texting an item-unique code to Sproxil for verification. Combating counterfeit drugs is a pressing global issue; a report by the International Policy Network estimated that fake tuberculosis and malaria drugs kill 700,000 people a year.
Nigeria recently experienced a series of bombings and a nationwide labor strike and, as a result of the instability, our team wasn’t able to travel to Nigeria as planned. We still managed to speak with local NGOs and government officials and interact directly with in-country project managers for multinational drug companies and their sales staff members. These conversations helped us better understand drug distribution channels and the information needs of consumers.
We determined that both consumers and stakeholders, including pharmacists, sales reps and community groups, need to be better informed about the risks of counterfeit drugs and the benefits of Sproxil. Our recommendation included a range of education efforts spanning print ads, radio dramas, street theater, as well as the creation of a pharmacy industry interest group and the integration of other innovative global health platforms.