Sproxil is a startup company that helps fight counterfeit drugs. Sproxil tags pharmaceuticals in Africa with a scratch off code similar to what you see with pre-paid cell phones. If a customer sends a code in a text message to Sproxil’s product authentication service, the company will verify whether it is legal or not.
Sproxil has raised $1.8 million in funding from the Acumen Fund. The Acumen Fund is a nonprofit global venture fund created to fight poverty in South Asia and East Africa. The $1.8 million in funding will be used to increase their sales team in the U.S. and Nigeria. And Sproxil will expand into India and Kenya with the funding. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 30% of drugs sold in developing nations are counterfeit. And up to 50% of medicine in Ghana and Pakistan do not have doses high enough to be effective.
The World Customs Organization reports that the counterfeit drug market is pegged at $200 billion. Customs are using authentication systems to prevent counterfeit drugs such as RFIDs, barcodes, and package holograms. Sproxil has sold over 5 million anti-counterfeit labels in Nigeria.
Sproxil’s customers include local pharmaceutical companies and bigger companies such as GlaxoSmithKline. These companies will add the codes to antibiotics. Sproxil can provide the mobile authentication technology cheaper than what it would take for bigger companeis to have it developed. Sproxil started in 2009 and they have 12 employees across Somerville, MA and Lagos, Nigeria.