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GSK introduces SMS service to combat Nigerian counterfeits

By Alexandria Pesic , 16-Mar-2011
Last updated on 16-Mar-2011 at 12:54 GMT2011-03-16T12:54:57Z

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has partnered with Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) to provide a patient SMS verification service for its antibiotic, Ampiclox.

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Officially announced by NAFDAC last week, the service will allow Nigerians to instantly confirm whether their pharmacy-bought Ampiclox is a genuine GSK product by sending a text message containing a twelve digit pin number labelled on each blister pack.

Lekan Asuni, managing director of GSK, said: “We are supporting this initiative by NAFDAC to ensure that medicines bought in Nigeria are genuine. We have chosen Ampiclox because it is feared that there are its counterfeit products in the market.

A simple message: OK. Original Ampiclox cap 500mg NRN: 04-2401 confirms the product as genuine,” he added.

Significant milestone

Lekan claimed the introduction of the service – which GSK is paying for – represents a “significant milestone” in securing the safety of Nigerian patients. The company has also set up a helpline for those patients who find themselves in possession of counterfeit drugs.

We believe that this project being implemented in partnership with NAFDAC will enhance the trust that people already have the GSK products,” he said.

There are a variety of approaches that GSK takes to protect the patient from counterfeit products. This SMS customer verification is another weapon in our arsenal.

We will continue to work closely with NAFDAC and other regulators to combat counterfeit activities across the globe,” he added.

Fight back

Director general of NAFDAC, Mr Paul Orhii, said the verification service gave patients and stakeholders the power to fight back against the menace of counterfeit pharmaceuticals, which claims hundreds of lives in Nigeria each year.

He called on other pharma companies operating in Nigeria to emulate GSK and partner with NAFDAC to introduce similar services for their products.

The country already uses the TruScan spectroscopy system to identify counterfeit drugs, and NAFDAC has recently lobbied the Nigerian government to dramatically increase the penalties for those engaged in their sale and manufacture.

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