Counterfeiting in pharmaceuticals is grave since it has a direct impact on healt – Medicines are an integral part of our lives given the fact that we as humans are susceptible to various forms of illnesses. But would it be shocking to know that these same medicines we turn to for cures of ailments could rather become hazardous to our wellbeing and even be fatal on some occasions? We might not be aware that many of the drugs we consume are fake and highly detrimental to our well-being.
Counterfeiting which is a sub-set of the world’s fraud market is estimated to be worth over $200 billion annually. Fake drugs kill or harm millions of people around the world and also create a negative image for pharmaceutical brands. Previous known facts hold it that developing nations are the strongholds of such illegal pharma trades, however, pharma counterfeiters are now using digital channels to penetrate developed nations, where traditional physical drug distribution networks seem to be well-protected.
There is only usually a minute physiological difference between an original product and its counterfeit; most time, the difference revolves around the idea of intellectual property (IP). However, counterfeiting in pharmaceutical products goes much beyond the misuse of Intellectual Property rights. It not only impacts the IP of the originator but undermines the safety of the public because unlike fashion goods and accessories, drug therapies need to go through a substantial demonstration in a clinical trial to establish their efficacy. Hence, intentionally developing a copy of the drug undermines the intent of the final product.
Sad but true that from fake Lipitor tablets to imitation Viagra and Cialis capsules, counterfeit pharmaceuticals record an annual turnover of almost €188 billion. This makes it one of the largest segments of fraudulent goods sold across the globe every year. To everybody’s chagrin, at least 1 per cent of all drugs in circulation even in the most secured markets in the world is estimated to be counterfeited. In Germany itself, authorities confiscated 4 million counterfeit tablets in 2015. In some developing countries in Africa, the figure for some counterfeited drugs can go as high 70 percent.
According to the World Health Organization, it has received 1500 reports of cases of substandard or fake medical products since 2013. Of these, antimalarials and antibiotics are the most reported. Most of the reports (42%) come from the WHO African Region, 21% from the WHO Region of the Americas, and 21% from the WHO European Region.
This is likely just a small fraction of the total problem and many cases may be going unreported. For example, only 8% of reports of substandard or falsified products to WHO came from the WHO Western Pacific Region, 6% from the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, and just 2% from the WHO South-East Asia Region.
The Impact of Counterfeiting on the Pharma Industry
The impact and damage of counterfeiting on the pharmaceutical industry go much beyond our imagination. It not only poses a threat to individual health but is equally detrimental to the pharmaceutical brand’s image, to the government, as well as for the environment.
Low quality counterfeited medicines can have different impacts on us and the entire health system. Some of them are:
– Failure to prevent or cure disease because of inappropriate composition.
– Health hazards from incorrect active ingredients.
– Loss of confidence in health care professionals, who put years of research and study, health programmes, and health systems.
– Increase in health system spending on health care.
– Lost productivity costs to patients and households when seeking additional medical care, the effects of which are felt by businesses.
Contribution to the progression of antimicrobial resistance and drug resistant infections.
Counterfeited products have a multitude of damage to brands and some of them are:
– Loss of revenue
– Damage to brand name
– The increased cost of security measures
– Undermining innovations and trials that go into the research and manufacturing of the actual product
One of the primary victims of counterfeited drugs is the government of a nation. Such fake pharmaceuticals can result in squandered health resources that have an effect not only on individual patients but also on international humanitarian organizations, NGOs, as well as national government programmes. Besides, they also lead to:
– Increase in regulatory and enforcement cost
– Loss of confidence of people in government and healthcare programmes and schemes rolled out by it
– Increased public healthcare costs etc.
Beyond the afore mentioned, counterfeiting in the pharmaceutical industry adversely affects the environment too. There are certain environmental protection standards that this industry needs to follow. They are also required to reduce chemical waste and other hazardous materials in their production process. However, counterfeiters do not follow any of these standards. In fact, they couldn’t care less! Their main pre-occupation is to enjoy financial gains at the expense of the environment, people, and systems. Moving beyond the environment, counterfeiting also hampers the economy of a country by restricting Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). The prevalence of counterfeit medicines in a country discourages foreign investment since aspiring investors aren’t sure if their interests will be protected.
How to ‘Treat’ Counterfeiting
There are many anti-counterfeiting technologies available on the market that pharma brands can adopt help to protect their products. However, most of them can either be replicated or tampered with easily. Holograms, logos etc. are technologies of the past as of 2022 and are largely deemed as old-school approaches to anti-counterfeiting; These techniques are now getting easily replicated by criminals. Drug forms that come in novel delivery devices like auto-injector pens, transdermal patches, etc, offer only some resistance to counterfeiting. Most of them fail to offer a wholesome solution.
What the pharmaceutical industry needs now is a cutting edge brand protection solution that is backed by the latest and most advanced set of technologies. This solution will not only protect the drugs, but also help locate the activities of criminals otherwise known as counterfeiters.
The Proven Anti-Counterfeiting Solution for Pharma Brands
Cypheme is a one-of-its-kind brand protection solution. The technology provides algorithm powered labels that are supported by a robust Artificial Intelligence (AI) which helps to verify a product’s authenticity in less than 5 seconds.
The Cypheme sticker or label comes with a unique fingerprint that cannot be copied or reproduced, and it is the only anti-counterfeit solution that has been ISO 12931 qualified. The flagship label which is popularly known as ‘Noise Print’ is a proprietary fingerprint anti-counterfeit label that gives every product it is affixed on a unique identifier as part of its protection mechanism. Noise Print is an anti-copy label that utilizes an advanced set of algorithms powered by an artificial neural network that helps to verify a product’s authenticity simply with the use of the camera of smartphone.
When one takes a picture of the Noise Print label on a Pharma product with a smartphone, the result of authenticity is known within 5 seconds. It however doesn’t stop there, the Cypheme solution is also able to geolocate where fake products are being scanned, and inadvertently, where they are being manufactured.
With the number of counterfeiters increasing every day, a strong, impactful, and unbreachable solution like Cypheme is the most practical solution that the pharmaceutical brands need.