Oct 31 , 2020

A team of experts at the Food & Drugs Authority have developed an application that enables users to verify the authenticity of prescription and over the counter drugs before use. Dubbed i-Verify, the application was financed by the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) Digital Health Activity initiative (DHA).

Launched last week, the application operates on Android smartphones. It helps users to identify counterfeit pharmaceuticals by scanning the information on the drug packaging or by filling the questionnaire on the application. The drug production information, the expiration date, and the dosage of the drug are aggregated in a point system that can be utilised in drug authentication.

The app, which has been available on the Google Play app store as of mid-October, is designed for users, the Authority and the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Supply Agency.

The application that took four months to be developed aims to answer three questions: the type of item, which is the "what"; the time of movement, the "when"; and the location of the product, the "where". It does this by using the input information to run a cross-check against different systems and data repositories like the Master Data Registry. In addition to verifying the safety and legality of products, the app will also be useful in conducting recalls.

The team conducted pilot testing alongside employees of the Authority from the earliest stages, according to Fasil Hailemariam, IT director for the Authority and team leader in developing the application.

Launching such an application is necessary, because it is what this era demands, said Social Beyen, an IT expert who runs his own IT company.

Follow-up is required from the Authority in terms of updating relevant information about the drugs, according to Social, adding that after the application launches, people who are illegally importing drugs and other pharmaceutical products will be easier to identify.

The USAID-funded DHA is a five-year project that supports the government to achieve the country’s Information Revolution Roadmap that includes using digital solutions to improve the technologically-lagging health system. The initiative was launched last year with a budget of 63 million dollars. The initiative also has the overarching goal of developing the culture of data usage in the health system.

The Authority is the main body in charge of registering drugs, health equipment, and beauty care products after import. It began registering and approving drug stores online through its website five years ago but is hopeful that the newly launched application will ease the process of identifying pharmaceutical drugs, preventing counterfeit products, and disseminating information about specific health products.

For a company wishing to import drugs, skincare products or health equipment, the registration is online, and the company will get approval after the Authority inspects the manufacturing process regarding the product, according to Abera Denke, communications director at the Authority.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 31,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1070]

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