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Nathan Sigworth & Taylor Thompson (2008) Pop!Tech Pop!Cast

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POP!TECH [♪ POP!TECH Theme Music ♪] Brings Together The World's Leading Thinkers To Share Inspiration and Ideas Igniting Change And Unlocking Human Potential This Is Part Of Their Ongoing Conversation POP!TECH POP!CAST Hello. So, at PharmaSecure, we'd like to see a world where 200,000 fewer people die from malaria every year. We'd also like to see a world where the pharmaceutical industry makes $50 billion more profit. Finally, we'd just like to see the world. So, a few years ago, I went to Rwanda for a year to work at a hospital to do public health research and wound up contracting malaria within a few days. And so, what happened, I went to the hospital that I was supposed to work at and they gave me some medicine, and within 2 or 3 days I was better. It was like having a bad cold. The same thing happens to hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year, and when they take the medicine, instead of getting better, They get worse, and worse, and die. Because, unlike me, the medicines that they buy had little or no active ingredient. There was a study printed in the Lancet in 2006 in Southeast Asia, that found that 53% of the medicines on the market, the most effective anti-malarial on the market, was fake, and had no active ingredient, containing chalk, or sugar. Similarly, a recent study in sub-Saharan Africa in 6 different countries found that an average of 35% of the anti-malarials there were severely substandard. And the World Health Organization estimates that, on average, 10-30% of the drugs that are available are counterfeit in these markets. So, finally, at the same time it's projected that the market value of these drugs is $50 billion, which comes out of the profits of branded and generic pharmaceuticals alike. So, essentially, what is this problem at its very root? I'd propose that it's a problem of information access. When you look at this drug, it's difficult to tell if it's real or fake. This is a fake drug. But it looks real. And when a customer goes to a pharmacy in a developing country they have very little way of telling whether the drugs they purchase are real or fake. In the past, technologies like holograms worked well to distinguish between real and fake drugs. But today, even holograms themselves are counterfeited. The holograms on the right are 2 of 14 different varieties of counterfeit holograms that were on counterfeit artesunate-based anti-malarials in Southeast Asia. The one on the left is real. There's also technologies that allow pharmaceutical companies to monitor their distribution chain, like radio-frequency tags. Very exciting technologies that allow us to determine where drugs are going and follow the distribution of pharmaceutical drugs. The problem is, these tags cost between 5 and 15 cents and the readers between $500 and $2000. And they really don't make sense for markets where pharmaceutical drugs are priced between 20 and 50 cents. So, what is this problem and how can we address it? This is just an illustration of the convoluted path that pharmaceutical drugs take from the manufacturer -- factory -- through distributors, carrier and forwarders, other distributors, finally to the retailer, and then to the end-user. The best way to address counterfeit drugs is to have a systematic and working regulatory process that functions to regulate the distribution of pharmaceutical drugs. In a lot of the countries that have problems of counterfeit drugs, this doesn't exist, or it doesn't have the resources to monitor these complex distributions. What we at Pharmasecure do is allow the end user and the manufacturer to be in touch with each other via mobile phone technology. So the end users can be able to check and make sure that the drugs they purchase are authentic. And the manufacturers can also have information and the ability to communicate with their consumers. And in order to ensure that this technology is available even on the least expensive medicines in these markets, we're able to have 4 revenue streams that allow us to cross-subsidize the anti-counterfeiting security, which really solves the problem. And so finally, we just have an illustration of what we do: standing between the counterfeiters and the markets, the consumers, in the developing countries. Thank you very much. Great, thanks! This work is licensable under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License For details please visit POP!TECH For more Pop!Casts, information on Pop!Tech or to learn how to participate, visit

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 55 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pop!Tech
Director: Pop!Tech
Views: 150
Posted by: beth on Nov 20, 2008

Pop!Tech social Innovation Fellows Nathan Sigworth & Taylor Thompson Share there ideas at Pop!Tech 2008

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