The Partnership for Safe Medicines
Weekly UpdateOctober 4, 2010
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Pfizer, Vodafone and Sproxil Join Efforts to Reduce Fake Drugs and Improve Healthcare in Africa

In New York on September 21, 2010, Ponni Subbiah, MD, MPH, Vice President, Pfizer Global Access, announced a joint commitment with Vodafone, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in The Gambia and International Health Partners, to support the "SMS for Health" initiative, aimed at improving access and reliability of medicine supply using mobile phone technology.


The program is part of the United Nations Development Programme's Business Call to Action, a global leadership initiative made up of companies that apply their core business expertise to the achievement of the eight internationally-agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by promoting sustainable solutions to development.

Using real-time information collected via mobile phones, SMS for Health will track medication stock levels and expiry dates and help capture trend information that can be used to predict the seasonal variation in the rate of disease. SMS for Health is currently being piloted in The Gambia.

"We've realized that one of the most important ways Pfizer can help improve sustainable healthcare access for underserved populations in emerging markets is through innovative business initiatives that are affordable and commercially viable," said Jean-Michel Halfon, President and General Manager of Pfizer's Emerging Markets Business Unit.

"Mobile technology has the potential to dramatically improve the provision of health care across the world but particularly, perhaps, in emerging economies where there is little established health infrastructure. The trick for healthcare providers is to identify the best way to maximize the opportunity. SMS for Health uses technology in an innovative way," said Vodafone Group's Head of Mobile Health Joaquim Croca.

As part of the initiative Sproxil pledged $4 million over the next two years to expand the use of the popular texting anti-counterfeiting technology in India and Kenya.

This technology allows anyone with a mobile phone to determine whether the medication they are about to take is authentic. The packaging of each drug has a number on it, which consumers text to government agencies. The agencies use that number to confirm the medication's authenticity and then relay that information to the drug taker.

It is estimated that over 700,000 people die annually due to imitation malaria and TB medication alone. By using mobile phones, consumers and patients purchasing medication can text in simple numeric codes placed on the drugs to verify if a medicine is genuine. In Nigeria, Sproxil's codes have already been used on over 1.4 million blister packs with thousands of users signing up every month.
Top News


Google Lawsuit Against Online Pharmacies Details Adwords Violations

In Google's law suit complaint filed September 21, 2010, online pharmacy advertisers violated the Terms and Conditions required for AdWords use and circumvented the automated monitoring systems. Google named two domain names,, which is no longer operating, and, which is still operational. Neither domain name appears in the VIPPS database. Google requires VIPPS verification as a prerequisite for AdWords engagement.In addition, LegitScript, which uses pharmacy verification standards recognized by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy identifies both pharmacies as "rogue pharmacies." (Partnership for Safe Medicines, September 29, 2010; Link here)

FDA Warns Consumers about Counterfeit Pet Medicines Sold Online


The United States Food and Drug Administration has issued a consumer alert to pet owners, warning them about the dangers of buying discounted pet drugs online. Online pharmacies can help pet owners save money when they purchase prescription drugs, just as they can help people get their own prescriptions filled, but legitimate companies always require a prescription from a veterinarian before filling an order for pet drugs. The F.D.A. warns that its own investigations have found online companies that sell unapproved drugs or other counterfeit products instead of the real thing. Some sites make fraudulent claims about a drug's effectiveness, while others dispense drugs without a prescription or ship expired drugs to unsuspecting pet owners. ("Warnings About Discounted Pet Drugs," New York Times, September 30, 2010; Story here)

World News

Indonesia: Demand Spurs Fake Drug Market


Speaking in Jakarta, Erita Harun from the United States Department of Justices' International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) Indonesia said that drug counterfeiters will resort to virtually anything in their quest to make money off of fake medication, according to the Jakarta Post. She said that these criminals gather used drug packets and reuse them to sell counterfeit drugs. Panji Pragiwaksono from the Community for Children with Cancer said that parent's of cancer victims are duped into buying counterfeit drugs, thinking that they are merely a cheaper alternative. (Partnership for Safe Medicines, September 30, 2010; Link here)

NAFDAC Teams with China to Fight Fake Drugs


Dr. Paul Orhii, the Director-General of Nigeria's National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), recently announced that the government body will be working with China to fight the importation of counterfeit drugs. Speaking at an event in Lagos, Orhii said that Nigeria was the largest market in Africa for pharmaceutical products from China, reports the African news publication Next, owned by Timbuktu Media. Orhii also said that the collaboration between NAFDAC and China will help the fight against fake drugs. "Faking and counterfeiting of regulated products are the biggest challenges facing regulatory authorities across the globe," he said. (Partnership for Safe Medicines, October 1, 2010; Story here)


PSM's Inaugural 2010 Interchange

When: Friday, Oct 8, 2010
Where: Washington, D.C

PSM InterchangeThe Partnership for Safe Medicines invites you to save the date for an intimate conference bringing together patient groups, providers, pharmaceutical company quality experts, enforcement personnel, policymakers, regulatory agency experts and other interested parties to discuss key issues around counterfeit drugs and other unsafe medicines.
Register Now
About the Partnership for Safe Medicines
The Partnership for Safe Medicines is a group of organizations and individuals that have policies, procedures, or programs to protect consumers from counterfeit or contraband medicines. For more information, please visit