25/11/2021 – Technology / Blockchain / German / Africa / Counterfeiting / Health / authentic.network
German blockchain start-up could combat Africa’s counterfeiting crisis in health products
MED-PROTEX PRODUCTION S.A. is set to start production of certified Covid-19 protective masks in Côte d'Ivoire, this month. Combining its protective equipment with digital applications developed by high-tech start-up authentic.network, the firms together hope to thwart the country’s – and wider continent’s – counterfeiting crisis in health products and services.
Using a technology that combats counterfeiting worldwide with transparency and trust, Chemnitz-based blockchain start-up authentic.network has set out to make the world a better, safer and more equitable place. The areas to which its innovative tech system can be applied range from medicine security and brand protection to seals of quality, ID cards and document security.
Making medicines and masks forgery-proof
Within the realm of Côte d'Ivoire’s healthcare segment, one advantage of this completely new combination of protective equipment and digital applications is that proof of authenticity and usage becomes completely digitised. Buyers of the protective masks need only their smartphone to determine whether the mask is genuine and has the corresponding certification. The entire system is authenticated by means of blockchain technology, meaning the risk of forgery and manipulation of the data is excluded.
For the free issue of state-subsidised FFP2 masks, the solution has been expanded to recognise whether the mask recipient is authorised to purchase the mask. This smart contract solution does not require any existing databases, IT systems or paper – a smartphone is sufficient for the processes to be carried out.
With authentic.network technology, almost all products and documents can swiftly be made forgery-proof, and linked to digital applications or new types of services. For this purpose, the products and documents are either printed with a new type of cryptographic code or affixed with a sticker. The code itself can be easily recognised as a green tick and generally indicates ‘original’.
The authenticating technology is also used for the protection and quality assurance of medicines: “The protection of medicines is an extremely important project for us in our efforts to save human lives and to develop new, local jobs in Africa,” noted Frank Theeg, General Director of authentic.network.
Up to 60% of all African medicines are counterfeit
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 30–60 per cent of counterfeit drugs are distributed to sick people in Africa. Although not subject to any scientifically based testing, WHO believes the origin of most plagiarism is most likely China and India. According to estimates by the organisation, around 200,000 people die every year as a result of counterfeit antimalarial drugs. The Ivory Coast state alone is losing around €80 million in sales in the private sector and €16 million from the state through the trade in counterfeit drugs – that is, money that might otherwise have flowed into jobs or useful projects to advance African societies and economies.
Kick-off: First implementation of the authentic technology
Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Health started this project with financial support from DEG, the German Investment and Development Company. The aim is to develop a pilot application for the introduction of authentic technology in Côte d'Ivoire. After the project started in February 2021, the first results were presented at the conference. In addition to end-to-end protection for locally produced drugs, grey market protection is to be implemented in the pilot. With corresponding processes and interfaces now analysed, the APP has been programmed and can now be downloaded from the app stores in Côte d'Ivoire. Crucially, the app – named ‘authentic.app’ – is free of charge. As soon as the trademark ‘green tick’ can be found on the medication, the service can be used.
Following the recent successful congress in Abidjan, the next phase – the process of integrating the first four local manufacturers of medicines and medical protective equipment – has commenced. If the process is successful, there is a real chance this innovative technology could make all medicines in Côte d'Ivoire forgery-proof.
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