Personal Tragedy Spurs Revolution in the Pharmaceutical Field

November 1, 2018

When I was thirteen, my father was in between jobs, and the transitional period affected my family’s health insurance coverage. During this period, I underwent a medical procedure and needed a few prescriptions to aid in my recovery. Without insurance, my medication totaled a couple hundred dollars, which was an unexpected expense for my family. We were almost forced to decide which, if any, of the medications, were absolutely necessary. This is a reality for many. Medications costs, especially for the uninsured, are through the roof. In some instances, families are pressured to find alternative and more affordable options, like counterfeit medication and degraded authentic drugs. Adebayo Alonge’s RxAll combats the black market for counterfeit and sub-standard drugs and attempts to reduce the 50–70% of counterfeit and sub par medications in Africa.

Alonge created RxAll, an AI-based device aimed at authenticating medicine. People who cannot afford medication are more likely to look for medication in nontraditional ways. Alonge raises a thought: “what if my dad had the means to test drugs by himself, so he doesn’t have to worry about falling ill?” RxAll is revolutionary to the market because it is the first to battle the quality of medicine for users in the world. The device scans the pill through the package, analyzes the chemical compounds, and delivers the results back to the device; it uses artificial intelligence to remove noise from the package and checks percent purity. Pharmaceutical companies are now forced to provide quality medication, not sub-standard damaged goods.

One takeaway is the resourcefulness of artificial intelligence. Entrepreneurs now have access to a new tool to help create social impact through technological advancements. Additionally, it is important to target a specific unmet need of a community. Alonge recognized a problem, brainstormed a solution, and prototyped an efficient device that is transformative. Lastly, while the intended audience remains the same, the way a product is distributed may change. It is important to remain open-minded and innovative to effectively meet one’s goals. Alonge, for example, accepted that RxAll in the end was costly and unaffordable to his intended audience, and he is now mapping out alternative ways to provide access to RxAll without requiring everyone to purchase the device.

Written by Luis Antonio Salazar ’20