Chinese drug giant tackles drug counterfeiting with mobile service

Guilin Pharmaceuticals has advanced a system to combat use of fake antimalarial drugs. The Chinese drugmaker has launched an SMS-based system for patients in Africa to check whether their antimalarial meds are the real thing.

Guilin, a leading global provider of artesunate, is initially rolling out the SMS texting service to patients in Nigeria. Patients can scratch off an area of their medicine packages to expose a special ID, which they can text for free to Guilin's system and receive a reply text with information on the authenticity of the medicine. The company says that the system combines its internal capabilities with the cloud computing system called Goldkey from the mPedigree Network.

Rampant drug counterfeiting threatens millions of patients, and multiple companies have advanced mobile services that can help consumers tell the difference between authentic meds and the fakes. Some of the verification tech providers include Sproxil and PharmaSecure, both of which have operations in developing countries where the problem has been most acute.

The American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank, has estimated that about 100,000 people die annually because of counterfeit drug use. Fake antimalaria meds endanger patients with the mosquito-borne infectious disease and have been blamed for drug resistance.

Guilin expects 10 million patients to benefit from the authentication system in the 2013-2014 implementation phase.

"This new technology leverages the most empowering device in Africa today--the mobile phone--as an additional layer of a powerful patient-empowerment strategy that includes our safety and quality feedback management system," Guilin Vice President Lily Su said. 

- here's the release