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Nigerian startup fights counterfeit drugs with technology

Nigerian startup fights counterfeit drugs with technology

Nigeria

To fight the spread of fake drugs in West Africa, a Nigerian health start-up is offering an innovative solution, that connects hospitals, and pharmacies with a multinational and local drug manufactures.

In Africa, anywhere between 30 and 50 percent of prescribed drugs are fake, undermining the treatment of killer diseases like Malaria.

In Nigeria, drugs such as anti-malarial and antibiotics are sometimes sold in open-air markets.

Fake medication first of all is a massive industry. There are reports that it is bigger than all illicit drugs combined, and that is an outright fake.

As well as putting patients at risk, counterfeit drugs are a constant bane for companies like Glaxosmithkline, Sanofi and other international drug makers.

Some pharmacists in Africa, for example, say that they are compelled to buy from the cheapest but not necessarily the safest suppliers to compete with illegal street traders.

Vivian Nwakah, an entrepreneur behind Medsaf, launched her start-up in January 2017.

“Fake medication first of all is a massive industry. There are reports that it is bigger than all illicit drugs combined, and that is an outright fake, you are just faking the package and then you are putting water pills or fake chalk pills inside,” Nwakah said.

She said she also want you to think about the sub-standard medication issue, so that is a medication that might come from a well meaning place.

“We have some manufacturers within the country that have excellent standards and in fact I have seen amazing warehouses in Nigeria for various manufacturing companies but they still have to import their raw materials and they don’t produce enough to cover the entire needs of the country,” she added.

Some pharmacists in Africa, for example, say that they are compelled to buy from the cheapest but not necessarily the safest suppliers to compete with illegal street traders.

“Medsaf has very robust supply chain unit, now we are not bothered to check the source of the supplier, or who is the manufacturer, is it genuine or not, is if original or fake, what is the quality assurance system, where the drugs are stored. So all these issues we are not concerned now,” said Medical Director, Grover Medical Lifestyle Clinic, Anil Grover.

With over 650 categories of drugs comprising 400 brand names, Medsaf says its able to meet more than 80 percent needs of most health facilities in Lagos.

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