Five NCIIA-funded teams are featured in the New York Times' special on affordable global health innovations. Read about the teams and their innovations, and the challenges faced by student inventors and entrepreneurs:
The MassChallenge 2010 competition, which seeks to identify and accelerate high potential new busnesses from around the US, has announced its finalists - including2007 NCIIA E-Team Sproxil (pictured) and 2010 E-Team OsmoPure. The 110 finalists are vying for 20 winning spots, and a share of $1 million. The winners will be announced October 21. Read more about MassChallenge.
Last year, Ashifi Gogo, former NCIIA E-Team grantee and founder of Sproxil, was awarded $10,000 by the Clinton Global Initiative University to develop his anti-counterfeit drug technology venture. On Thursday, Sept 23, he spoke at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative, giving an update on Sproxil's work in Nigeria, where thousands of locals are signing up every month to use the mobile phone system to find out if their medicine is authentic or not.
President Clinton's reaction following Ashifi's update: "This is a genuinely remarkable accomplishment...(it's) empowering...putting people in charge of their own healthcare."
Sproxil, a 2007 NCIIA E-Team grantee developing cellphone technology to combat the use of counterfeit drugs in Nigeria and Ghana, has been awarded $10,000 by the Clinton Global Initiative University. Ashifi Gogo, Sproxil's lead technologist, also received an oustanding commitment award.
Ashifi is being granted $10,000 towards materials to create the item-unique coding for one million drug labels and to offset the costs of SMS texts for consumers.
Read about the award, including an interview with Ashifi, here.
According to the World Health Organization, 25% of the medicines sold in the developing world are inauthentic copies containing little or no active ingredients. When fake drugs are laced with lethal ingredients they can lead to mass fatalities, as was the case in a 1995 outbreak of false meningitis vaccine in Niger that killed 195,00 people. To fight the problem, this E-Team is developing an SMS protocol called UPAP. UPAP is a labeling system for drug manufacturers that allows customers to use their cell phones to text message covert, one-time alphanumeric codes to the drug company's back-end database for verification. The system verifies whether or not the drug is genuine, allowing the customer to get information on what they're buying right at the pharmacy.
A number of competing drug-verification technologies exist, such as RFID and colorimetric/holographic signatures, but none combine UPAP's low cost and high effectiveness. The team plans to focus initially on Ghana, where 40% of the drugs are counterfeit.
Update: a member of the original team has incorporated the venture as Sproxil, which has several partners, including the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers Program, Ashoka, Nokia, and a number of telecoms carriers and pharmaceutical regulators in Ghana, Nigeria, and India.