GlaxoSmithKline launches drugs verification SMS service Hakikisha Dawa in Kenya

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Hakikisha Dawa
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Hakikisha Dawa is an sms based service that will allow Kenyans to verify the validity of drugs to confirm they are actually supplied by GlaxoSmithkline. Initially, this service will involve two GSK products, Augmentin and Zentel in a campaign that will be rolled out in Kenya and onto Tanzania afterwards. These two drugs are high volume products, making them a valid business case for the 2 year pilot project which comes at a cost of Kshs. 20 million, before considering going to other products.

This service is already taking place in Nigeria and a research by SBO Research confirmed the need by patients to have the power to verify the products. 50% of patients found SMS verification a very convenient way since it provides access to millions as mobile phone penetration is at 50% of the population. SMS also as a source of information was found applealing as the information is available in one portal provided by GSK and the Government, giving patients confidence in the drugs they consume.

GSK has partnered with all the Mobile Network Operators in Kenya, Safaricom, Orange, Airtel and yuMobile to ensure the service reaches all Kenyans. Mr. Richard Lesiyampe, CEO Kenyatta Hospital says that the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya loses over 10 billion to counterfeit drugs. Counterfeits are manufactured using products like corn starch, chalk, talcum powder, the latter which is dangerous to human life.30% of medicines in used in emerging markets are counterfeits, and the usual methods of verification are quite slow, exposing patients to risks when they consume them. This results to over 20 million people losing their lives globally due to consumption of counterfeit drugs, a figure that cannot be taken lightly.

How Hakikisha Dawa works

The drugs will have a security label that you scratch to reveal a 15 digit alphanumeric code and a QR Code for verification. At the moment the QR Code as a method of verification is not active but will be in a near future. Usual product information via QR code is available however. The SMS to send the verification code is 15629 which is a free service on any mobile network in Kenya. The confirmation text will come back within seconds.The message that one gets for verifying the validity of the drugs reads:

“This is a product supplied by GSK, code XXXXXX”

This will be backed up by a call centre on a toll-free number for instances where one does not get through via SMS.This will be a 24 hour service and you will get the number to the call centre in the confirmation text incase there is some problem in verification. You can either call or they call you. Dr. Mwatu, Director Regulatory Affairs for Developing countries at GSK says that you are encouraged to do verification at the pharmacy before leaving so as to get replacement or refund incase you get a counterfeit product.

In other related news, Kenya Bureu of Statistics is working on a product with which you can crosscheck validity of the KEBS mark of quality. The product name will be included in the KEBS mark, roll-out at around January and will also run on an SMS shortcode to ensure consumers are in the know and can hastily confirm that products are registered in the KEBS database as genuine.

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