Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nathan Sigworth & Taylor Thompson : Mobile Phones & Counterfeit Drugs

Malaria. I've been there, though indirectly. If you ran into me in San Francisco in April 2009, then I'm sure I talked your ear off about the disease - and would have elaborated upon the problem of counterfeit drugs.

photo: counterfeit drugs seized in Tanzania and Uganda

I first came across the startup PharmaSecure a while ago, but just stumbled upon them again. Wanted to share, because in addition to the company's mission, I love that it was founded by two Millennials - Nathan Sigworth and Taylor Thompson.

Check out Nathan & Taylor's PopTech presentation:

For some background, I grabbed this from their Echoing Green profile page:

During his first year at Dartmouth College, an invention introduced Nathan to the world of entrepreneurship, while a visit to a rural hospital in India introduced him to a world of poverty and public health problems. Nathan spent the next three years taking classes on economics and doing research on issues of health access intending to use entrepreneurship to address major health issues. Taylor Thompson spent sixteen months of his time at Dartmouth in East Africa, doing work on health access and research projects. With complementary skills, a common vision, and a year as college roommates, Nathan and Taylor decided to team up and address the problem of counterfeit drugs.

Seeing Possibilities: What are the most important qualities to be a successful social entrepreneur? You must (so we’re told) be dogged. You must latch onto your goals like a child to his mother’s neck and not let go until they are safely accomplished, but–all the while—you also must submit yourself, your goals, to the evidence. Never be too rigid to stop something that is failing; never be so proud to acknowledge your mistakes; always apply the strictest standards to that which you like best.

What advice or quote do you keep close to your heart as a social change leader?“It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly...who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

PharmaSecure operates in India. However, from this Wired article: As you might expect, people working to fight counterfeit drugs don’t make a lot of friends among the illegal racket, so some of Sigworth and Thompson’s plans — and their whereabouts — remain secret, but they are planning to be operating in eight countries across Asia and Africa over the next few years.

Here's an example of how the PharmaSource system works:

For more info see the company's FAQ's page. Partner organizations - like Echoing Green - are listed here.

While reading about PharmaSecure I came across another like-minded startup also incubated at Dartmouth, Sproxil. More info in this article. The article mentions that there's another company in this field - MPedigree. They work in Ghana.

Check out this super interesting & brief video from MPedigree:

I'm so glad to see so much innovation happening around the problem of counterfeit drugs.

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