Assessing the Impact of Anti-Falsification Technology on Patient Choice of Prescription Medicines in Four Teaching Hospitals in Nigeria
Yagazie Okechukwu, Anonye
Background: Falsified medicines over the years have had a major impact on both patients, manufacturing companies and national health budgets/insurance thus causing both economic and humanistic losses to stakeholders. It has caused an estimated loss of over 500 billion naira (625 million euros) to both local and foreign investors in the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry. This review analyzes data that was gathered between February 2023 to April 2023, through questionnaires designed to assessthe attitude of patients who were filling prescriptions with the background knowledge of falsified medicine detection. Aim: This study’s author theorized that authenticating labels and technology could affect the way patients see medicines and fill prescriptions. Methods: The study participants of 115 comprised of physicians 10%, pharmacist 47%, registered nurses 19%, medical laboratory scientists 15%, radiographer 2%, optometrists 3% and dentists 2% practicing across four teaching hospitals in Nigeria who participated through surveys. Data analysis was done using Microsoft Excel to produce charts, graphs and tables. Results: The analyzed data shows patients who have little or no awareness and those who gained awareness from their pharmacist or prescriber of medicine anti-falsification technology are likely to request for their prescriptions in its original packaging at a similar frequency. Whereas the data tilts and shows that those with little awareness are two-times less likely to suspect that a medicine is falsified when their treatment therapy fails and would often request for a change of brand or inform their prescriber as compared to the aware group who would immediately confirm suspicions that the medicine is “fake”. However, both groups would request for a known brand or generic whenever the prescription medicine lacks features for verification rather than seek reassurance of quality from their prescriber or pharmacist. Some of the recommendations provided by respondents to stop the spread of falsified medicines is the purposeful reeducation of the public on the dangers of falsified medicines and ways to detect them using technology and report them as a way of cleaning up the supply chain. The study participants recorded an 85.2% willingness to report identified falsified medicines to the regulators and may opt for a stepwise approach through their healthcare providers or hospital authority or a more direct approach to the national authorities. This is also a notable indication of the public resisting falsified medicines spread in their various capacities. The participants also confirmed an 6.1% willingness to use mobile authentication service technology and other features to verify if their medicines are original, but a higher 20.2% of respondents would always prefer to use the NAFDAC registration number alone or in combination, while a 10.5% would depend on the presence of other verification features like insignias and seals. Conclusion: The study demonstrates that there is a good awareness of anti-falsification technology and that knowledge affects how patients interact with their prescription medicines and causes a bias for known brands/generics while blaming therapy failures on suspected falsified medicines.