A traceability information system for curbing counterfeiting: case of the health sector in Kenya
The pharmaceuticals industry in Kenya is lucrative and fast growing and as a result of this, counterfeit pharmaceutical products have made it into the market, Nzomo (2011). End consumers do not have a way by which they can confirm or check the authenticity of the medicines they purchase at the point of sale. In addition, the large volumes of pharmaceutical products and the large numbers of pharmacies in the market have become impossible for the regulatory body to monitor, UNIDO (2010). The counterfeits market is demand-driven, the more the consumers purchase counterfeit products the more the market thrives. Therefore, by getting rid of the demand, the counterfeits market would eventually die out. Getting rid of the demand involves enabling end consumers avoid purchasing counterfeits; this can be achieved by providing a platform through which the end consumer can tell apart a genuine product and a counterfeit at the point of sale. This thesis proposes implementation of a prototype of an automated traceability system to help end consumers verify the authenticity of the products they purchase. The prototype creates electronic linkages of the products as they move downstream through the supply chain. With the creation of these linkages, product information is captured at each step. The prototype makes it possible for the Pharmacy and Poisons Board to monitor flow of the products as well as the suppliers. It also makes it possible to query for a particular medicine and get its details on the spot. End consumers are thus able to accurately verify the authenticity of the medicine they purchase at the point of sale and are therefore able to avoid purchase of counterfeit medicines. The results of this study revealed loopholes that are exploited by counterfeiters allowing counterfeit products to enter the market. It became apparent that there is a need of an automated traceability system to seal these loopholes. A prototype was developed based on user requirements gathered and put to test using selected participants. It was observed that the prototype offers for easy traceability, prompt product recall procedures and an easy way to query for medicine details.