Authentication and Pharmaceutical Protection: An Industry Roundtable

PharmTech talked to anticounterfeiting experts to discuss terrorism as a source of counterfeit products.
Sep 02, 2010
Volume 34, Issue 9

The growing problem of counterfeit drugs poses an increasing threat to public health and the health of the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical Technology conducted a round-table discussion focused on authentication technologies as a means of identifying and detecting genuine products, and it begins by looking at terrorist organizations as producers of counterfeits. A Q&A with John D. Glover, formerly of the FBI and US State Department, discusses links between terrorism and counterfeits and identifies technologies and methods to fight fake drugs in the supply chain. Representing the field of authentication technologies, experts from ARmark Authentication Technologies and NanoGuardian examine on-dose techniques. Finally, hand-held devices and mobile solutions are addressed with input from the US Pharmacopeia, Thermo Scientific, and Sproxil.

Links to terrorism

Discussing the relationship between counterfeits and terrorism is John D. Glover, DPA, whose 35-year career includes work with the FBI, Bristol-Myers Squibb (New York), the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, and the US State Department. He is currently head of the security advisory board for Nano-Guardian (Chicago), a provider of on-dosage authentication technology.

PharmTech: Can you explain how terrorism is connected to counterfeiting?

Glover: The link between counterfeit goods and terrorism is difficult to assess because of the complex and global network of individuals, organizations, goods, and finances involved. However, during the past several years, various unclassified reports have clearly established this linkage. These reports indicate that the theft of intellectual property (IP) rights through the counterfeiting of consumer goods is a large and growing criminal enterprise.

In 2000, Terry Anslow, chief investigator of the Crime Unit of the European Leisure Software Publishers Association, reported that terrorists have found counterfeiting to be a lucrative means of raising funds. As early as 2001, Alan Slobodin, senior counsel for the US House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, stated that there was strong evidence linking the sale of counterfeit medicines on the Internet to terrorist organizations in the Middle East.

Hand-held authentication
In 2002, the US Customs Service warned of an increasingly close connection between transnational crime and terrorism, with the profits from pirated and counterfeit goods being the strongest link. In 2003, the secretary-general of Interpol reported that the pirating of products such as computer software, CDs, and DVDs was becoming the preferred method of funding for a number of terrorist organizations. He mentioned direct and indirect connections between counterfeiting and Hezbollah, Chechen rebels, extremist groups in Kosovo, and al-Qaida, among others.

The US State Department, in 2004, wrote that the tri-border region of South America—Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay—is a regional hub for Hamas and Hezbollah fundraising activities, including the manufacture and distribution of pirated goods. In 2005, the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition posited that there is sufficient evidence that terrorist organizations are exploiting America's IP and profiting from the manufacture and sale of pirated goods.

Additionally, some law enforcement agencies have linked al-Qaida to the sale of fake perfumes and shampoos.

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