Medjet Update: Fake Drugs and the International Traveler

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By: John Gobbels
MedjetAssist VP/COO

Travelers in need of medications while abroad can often fall into a common trap of paying for fake drugs, but some new technology should help curb the number of travelers who fall victim to these scams.

The new technology called Mobile Product Authentication was developed by Dr. Ashifi Cogo, a Ghanaian native working in the UK. His concept means drug manufacturers would embed a lottery style scratch off panel on the back of each of their products. After scratching off the panel, the purchaser keys its unique code into a mobile phone and it sends the code via a free text message to the manufacturer. The traveler receives an almost immediate response indicating whether the drug is real of fake.

Earlier this year, a report published by the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime showed that three in 10 pharmaceutical products found in Africa, Asia and Latin America were counterfeit, while 50 to 60 percent of medications tested in parts of Asia and Africa have too little or no active ingredients.

Hopefully this new technology will empower consumers to refuse fake drugs, putting the manufacturers out of business. It’s reported that 700,000 people die each year from fake medications associated with malaria and tuberculosis alone.

International Travel Insurance Journal: December 2011: Issue 131 pg16