Nigerians text to check for drug fakes

An anti-counterfeiting pilot project underway in Nigeria uses a cell-phone service for drug authentication. The Nigerian National Agency for Food and Drug Administration is partnering with Biofem Pharmaceuticals in the effort.

In the pilot, Biofem packages a diabetes drug with a scratch card containing six labels, each of which hides a code. Consumers text the codes to the authentication service and receive a reply informing them of the drug's legitimacy. The system uses a mobile authentication technology based on asymmetric encryption from Sproxil, a provider of cell-phone-based solutions for use in emerging markets.

The pilot includes only the diabetes drug currently but Nigerian authorities plan to implement the service for all drugs at risk of counterfeiting.

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