Ethan Zuckerman, an activist for economic development in Africa and a research fellow from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, reports about a new project called mPedigree, to fight pharma fakes in the developing world with cellular phones:
Friends of mine are working on a new project in Ghana designed to combat pharma fakes. The project, called mPedigree, seeks to build a system first in Ghana, and then throughout Africa, that tracks drugs from their original producers all the way to the pharmacy shelves, allowing each buyer in the chain to ensure that they’re dealing with a legimate product. The idea of this system comes from the ePedigree system being implemented to track medications in the US using RFID tags.
It’s probably prohibitively expensive to put RFID tags on every box of medicine coming into Ghana. But a system that takes advantage of the ubiquity of mobile phones in Ghana, allowing a purchaser to check whether the pills she’s buying in a pharmacy are registered and tracked would be a great use of appropriate technology to tackle a difficult problem. That’s what mPedigree proposes to do. The project is being implemented by a very new company called Syncrytel, which has spun out of a social entrepreneurship project at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering.