Why pharma companies must take counterfeiting seriously?

Pharmaceutical products are of vital importance to the healthcare system of every country. However, high incidents of counterfeiting in the pharmaceutical business has hampered the growth of the pharma industry and has wreaked havoc on the healthcare systems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 10 to 15% of the global drug supply is counterfeit and Africa accounts for up to 30% of the counterfeit medicine in circulation. A per another statistic it is estimated that 1 in 10 drugs sold worldwide is counterfeit.

One of the worrisome situations created by counterfeit medicines is their threat to human lives. According to a news published in The Guardian, “A surge in counterfeit and poor-quality medicines means that 2,50,000 children a year are thought to die after receiving shoddy or outright fake drugs intended to treat malaria and pneumonia alone.”

Lately, the problem of fake medicines has grown manifolds with the rise of e-commerce platforms. This has led to a growth of illegal online pharmacies as well as online marketplaces distributing them. Amidst this grim scenario, pharmaceutical companies must take product and brand protection seriously due to the following reasons:

To protect their consumers

An estimated 116,000 deaths have occurred in Sub-Sharan Africa due to counterfeit malaria pills. Whether the counterfeit is a placebo containing sugar or has been laced with cheap and dangerous chemicals, it is putting human lives at risk.

To secure their return on investments

The global pharmaceutical industry loses millions due to the sale of fake and sub-standard medicines every year. The EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) estimates that the EU pharmaceutical industry loses the equivalent of nearly 7% in sales per year due to counterfeit drugs which accounted for 26,9 billion Euros annually. No wonder, the pharmaceutical industry invests billions in R&D and counterfeiting badly affects their return on investments.

To safeguard their brand reputation

Counterfeit drugs ruin the image of pharmaceutical brands. Fake medicines also affect the reputation of generic medicines which are meant for the masses. Pharmaceutical companies must strictly ensure that their products are not being counterfeited.

Pharmaceutical anti-counterfeiting technologies market analysis (2018-26)

Pharmaceutical products are one of the most vulnerable goods for counterfeiting practices worldwide. Counterfeiting practices involve substitution of original medicine with a substandard drug containing toxic substance or no active ingredient at all. Anti-counterfeiting technologies are applied to nullify adverse impact on the health of patients, which may lead to the death of the patient in extreme cases. Unlike other products in which counterfeiting practices could be identified with the visual appearance of the product by the end user, pharmaceutical products could not be identified for their spurious content by the end user or other stakeholders.

Anti-counterfeiting technologies consist of different types such as track and trace technologies, cohort technologies, overt technologies, and forensic technologies. Although there is a rapid change in the technology landscape due to the availability of smartphones.

According to the International Trade Administration Top Market Reports on Pharmaceuticals published in 2016, the global market for counterfeit drugs valued at number of US$ 75 – 200 billion, which is a serious threat to the health of people worldwide. According to the estimate by the International Criminal Police Organization, (Interpol) counterfeit drugs causes more than 1 million death every year. Increasing intervention by government and other health authorities such as WHO, OECD, and Interpol to tackle the problem of counterfeit drugs is also expected to drive the growth of pharmaceutical anti-counterfeiting technologies market size over the forecast period (2018-26).

Access the full report: https://www.coherentmarketinsights.com/ongoing-insight/pharmaceutical-anti-counterfeiting-technologies-market-1747

Source: business herald

‘Fake drugs cause death of 2,50,000 children every year’ warn US doctors

Doctors have asked for an urgent international effort to combat the harmful effect of bad drugs that are thought to kill hundreds of thousands of people around the world everywhere.

The doctors cautioned that an increase in counterfeit and cheap grade medicines means that 2,50,000 children are thought to die because of them.

A large number of children are thought to die due to cheap grade vaccines and antibiotics which are meant to treat acute infections and diseases such as hepatitis, yellow fever and meningitis.

“The penalties are a slap on the hand, but we are talking about murder by fake medicine here,” said Joel Breman, a senior scientist emeritus at the US National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

Writing in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, doctors from the US government, universities, hospitals and the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer warn that the rise in “falsified and substandard medicines” has become a “public health emergency”. On top of the direct harm they cause, bad drugs are a major driver of antimicrobial resistance, which fuels the rise of superbugs. “This is an urgent public health issue and we need to take action,” Breman said.

Source: theguardian.com

Raids conducted at different locations in UK on fake medicines

During a sting by UK police more than £2million worth of illegal and ‘potentially harmful’ medicines have been seized by officials. The confiscated medications include diazepam also known as Valium and another stimulant drug modafinil which were found inside clothes and video games cases. Government agents arrested a person after raids on a semi-detached house and lock up a unit in Manchester along with this they also found packages at airports and mail delivery centres.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found more than one million doses of medications as part of a coordinated international operation. The raids were part of Interpol’s Operation Pangea which took place in 116 countries and uncovered worth £10.9million of medicines.

The officials carried out the raids between October 9 and 17 and have warned people from buying medicines online and also self-medicating. Alastair Jeffery, MHRA’s head of enforcement said that criminals who sell medicines over the internet have no regard to the health of the people.

Alastair also stressed on that fact that falsified or unlicensed medicines puts the life of consumers at risk. This is just a small part of the overall problem and they are taking action against illegal partners to stop illegal medicines. Alastair also said that in order to protect your health

Source: dailymail.co.uk

AICDF wants anti-counterfeiting technology for essential medicines

The CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organization) is on the verge of implementing a track and trace mechanism for prominent drug manufacturing companies which are most susceptible to counterfeiting. But, the step can only reap benefits if the move extends to NLEM (National List of Essential Medicines) products as well says, AICDF (All India Chemists & Distributors Federation).

CDSCO has identified top 300 drug companies based on the moving annual data. The organization wants top 300 drug brands to print a 14-digit number on the labels of the product along with their contact number. This will help the consumer to check the authenticity of the drugs by sending a text message on the number provided on the label. One would receive information like batch number or the expiry date of the product with other details verifying the product’s genuineness.

However, the AICDF has disagreed with the current move and has stated that counterfeiters concentrate more on the brands which have been popular for more than a decade- the brands well known to common people. Joydeep Sarkar General Secretary of AICDF stated that any new molecule included in NLEM, post-DPCO-2013, can churn out huge profits. In 1995 the NLEM brands had a profit margin of 100 % which has now grown up to 500 to 800 %.

Sarkar also said that government should take proactive measures to banish counterfeiting from the pharma industry but, production of fake medicines starts with the availability of basic ingredients imported by companies. It’s the negligence of the concerned authorities who are quite liberal in allowing easy import of salts rather clearing them through a stringent check. Moreover, no restriction on proper disposal of expired medicines has also encouraged the sale of counterfeit medicines as manufacturers show reluctance to take back expired medicines from stockists. He also pointed out that instead of taking measures against the real offenders who are the manufacturers, authorities consider traders as the prime culprits.

Expressing his doubt on the efficacy of unique code to be printed on dug packs to counter duplication he said that the use of a code, QR-code or a special mark will not be able to restrict counterfeiting. In the past counterfeiters have been able to replicate labels and with time they would also find ways to replicate special codes thus diminishing the line between fake and real product.

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