Ashifi Gogo ’05 recently shared a New York City stage with President Bill Clinton, who commended the Whitman alumnus for his work to combat pharmaceutical fraud in developing nations. Earlier this year, Gogo launched an enterprise called Sproxil, which provides an easy way for consumers to use cell phones to identify counterfeit drugs.

As part of the sixth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), held Sept. 20-23, Clinton asked Gogo to provide an update on the 2009 pledge he made to build Sproxil. The former president established CGI in 2005 to join global leaders to devise and implement solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

“We set out to provide manufacturing companies with item-unique labels, such that when consumers buy drugs at the point of sale, they can scratch the label, send a text message with the number they see, and get an instant response – right at the counter – telling them whether the drug is genuine or fake,” Gogo reported to Clinton and audience members. “So far we have provided 1.4 million labels to pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria, and the Nigerian FDA has fully embraced our solution.”

Since launching in Nigeria, Sproxil has processed more than 115,000 text messages from consumers and continues to sign on several thousand new users each month. Gogo, who double-majored in math and physics and minored in economics at Whitman, said that he is committed to adding new drugs and new countries to Sproxil’s operations, and reaching several million more users in developing nations who need access to genuine medications.

“I spent most of my life trying to get medicine to people who don’t have it … I had always underestimated the scope of this problem, and the extent to which, ironically, it is escalating as we try to increase the capacities of poor countries to provide health care to their people,” said Clinton. “So this is a genuinely remarkable achievement and, as he said, it just scratches the surface of what we need to do.”

Clinton said he also appreciated that Gogo’s technology is “empowering, and puts people in charge of their own health care.”

To learn more about Sproxil and watch a video of Gogo’s CGI honor, click here.

To read an article on Gogo from the December 2008 issue of Whitman Magazine, click here.

— Joe Gurriere