How Nigerian Startups, NAFDAC are Fighting Fake Drugs Scourge

Startups in Nigeria are partnering with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in the fight against the prevalence of counterfeited drugs in the world’s most populous black nation.

The prevalence rate of fake drugs in Nigeria is higher than the global average of 10% and contributes to several deaths annually. NAFDAC, the agency responsible for regulating drugs proliferation in the country, says most counterfeited are drugs for anti-malaria, pain and antibiotics.

The agency has collaborated with startups to create stickers with unique codes that manufacturers and distributors can attach to boxes and sachets of pills to combat the flood of counterfeit pills. Using their smartphones, consumers can then scan the code and confirm their authenticity.

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A mobile app developed by Lagos-based Chekkit Technologies lets patients verify the authenticity of products and manufacturers track new customers.

The company’s founder Dare Odumade said manufacturers have also been able to learn about side effects their product may cause on consumers based on what consumers say about it.

Kingsley Ejiofor, NAFDAC’s director of investigation and enforcement, said the agency has seized N2 trillion ($4.8 billion) worth of counterfeit drugs in three years.

Consumer confidence is being boosted by tracking apps, he said, adding that no fewer than 200 containers of counterfeit medicine are at the ports scheduled for destruction. 

He said that China and India were the major sources of fake medicines.

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Sproxil Africa’s Managing Director Chinedum Chijioke said the company’s app-enabled users to verify the authenticity of products they were buying.

CEO Femi Soremekun says Biofem Industries imports pharmaceuticals and uses Sproxil technology to make their supply chains more visible.

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