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Beyond Nigeria, other countries including Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, have all expressed interest in signing up for the technology. So far, small trials of the text messaging system have been conducted in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Nigeria. The Nigerian government recently ran its own test of the system on diabetes medicines used by more than 20,000 people.

Harris said the widespread use of mobile phones in Africa _ where many people commonly use cell phones to do banking _ should spur the acceptance of the text messaging system.

But he wasn’t entirely convinced Nigeria’s adoption of the technology could be used for every medicine and said it would be impossible to police. “Any system that is controlled by the government can stifle new technologies,” Harris said. Counterfeits are so rife in Africa he said it would take much more than one initiative to fix the problem.

Still, Harris predicted the system would help consumers in countries where corruption often compromises the medical supply. “This will help people whether they’re buying their medicines at a hospital pharmacy or a roadside market,” he said.