The full version of this counterfeiting feature can be read in the July issue of our digital magazine: http://www.pharmtech.com/ptedigital0710
The problem of counterfeit medicines was first addressed at an international level in 1985, when a conference of experts recommended that the World Health Organization (WHO), together with other international and non-governmental organisations, should study the feasibility of setting up a clearing house to collect data and to inform governments about the nature and extent of counterfeiting. Since then, however, the problem has only escalated. According to the WHO, the magnitude of the issue is difficult to assess because of the variety of information sources available.1 Additionally, the WHO stresses that counterfeiters are extremely flexible and can change their methods from day to day, so the results of a study may already be out of date the day they are released.
Products can never be made completely secure against counterfeiting; however, counterfeiters will always target medicines that are easiest to copy. In the EU, companies that have yet to implement a solution are going to have to move quickly in light of the significant threat that counterfeiting presents as well as amendments that are being made to the current EU anti-counterfeiting directive; one of which mandates safety features, such as seals or serial numbers, for certain medicines.5
Speaking to a variety of industry leaders, PTE examines some of the trends in anti-counterfeiting technologies, as well as the innovative solutions being used by the industry.
1. WHO, Medicines: counterfeit medicines, Fact sheet N°275 (2010). http://www.who.int/
2. European Commission, Counterfeit Medicines (2010). http://ec.europa.eu/
3. Aegate, Medicines top counterfeit concern list in Europe — consumers call for tougher safety measures (2009). http://www.aegate.com/
5. European Parliament, Fake medicines: MEPs want to target online sales (2010). http://www.europarl.europa.eu/