GSK Launches SMS Campaign to Check Fake Drugs
MULTINATIONAL pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline Limited (GSK) has unveiled a text message platform dubbed 'Hakikisha Dawa' (verify medicine) in Tanzania in a bid to curb counterfeit medicines in the market.
Through the initiative, a customer can verify genuine drugs supplied by the company by texting hidden code found in the package to number 15629. The company's Director of Regulatory Affairs for Developing Countries, Dr William Mwatu, said the pilot-project will enable customers to verify that the medicine they are purchasing have been supplied by GSK.
"We conducted a research in Tanzania and Kenya which found out that customers and patients alike want to be sure whether the drugs they purchase are genuine," Dr Mwatu said while unveiling the project. At present, the company supplies drugs namely Augmentin 625mg and Zentel 400mg in the local company.
According to the GSK official, the initiative aims at ensuring that the market is supplied with genuine products and also enhance confidence and trust among its customers. "We have so far partnered with two of the four mobile service providers to ensure that the consumers are able to access the service free of charge via mobile phone. We are still engaging other operators," Dr Mwatu noted.
Speaking at the same occasion, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Seif Rashid, said the government is committed to ensuring provision of quality health care for all Tanzanians regardless of their age, gender or origin.
"For a growing country such as ours, a healthy population is a productive population and the project will assure us of genuine products and overcome the challenge of counterfeit drugs," he said.
The deputy minister said the programme comes at a right time when the government is working steadily towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), one improving access to affordable health products and services.
"Responsible authorities such as the Tanzania Foods and Drugs Authority (TFDA) should work closely with GSK, healthcare providers and professionals to share information on safety of drugs supplied in the country," Dr Rashid said.
The project act as a path in fulfilling Tanzania's vision of embracing a healthy population, with a clear commitment towards providing best health care services and delivery to the people through good governance, strong national medical regulation and effective control system.