Anticounterfeiting measures ranked as a top-of-mind concern at this year's Interphex trade show, held March 21–23 in New York
City. This matter is no surprise because incidents involving counterfeit drugs have spiked in recent years. As a result, manufacturers
are taking steps to protect consumers and their brands, and the US Food and Drug Administration and several states are studying
ways to tighten the supply chain.
As always, Interphex offered a great chance to study new pharmaceutical packaging concepts and packaging machines such as
those designed to thwart counterfeiting, to protect against moisture and oxygen exposure, and to improve distribution.
Anticounterfeiting measures can be divided into two categories: overt and covert. Overt measures include color-shifting inks, optically variable devices, holograms, thermochromic ink or glue, and tamper-evident
security seals. Covert measures include taggants and biomolecular markers, digital watermarks, microprinting, invisible graphics printed with UV-
or IR-sensitive ink, antitheft devices, and security substrates. Coding schemas such as mass serialization and consecutive
numbering also play a role. Experts recommend using a combination of features to achieve the best protection against counterfeiting.
Multilayer approaches. Optically variable devices include an assortment of sophisticated technologies that can be combined to provide multifaceted
protection. Some are readily visible, whereas others require a tool such as a magnifier or screened piece of film to detect.
Examples include color effects, minitext, color flips, hidden information or features, image flips, nanotext or nanoimage,
lens effects, rainbows, and grayscale images ("Trustseal," Kurz Transfer Products, Charlotte, NC,
Laser coder from ATS Automation Tooling Systems and proprietary ribbon from Tesa Tape, Inc. produces indelible, high-contrast
codes on glass vials.
For labels, a multilayer approach includes adhesive colorants, tinting agents, marker dyes, color-shifting pigments, magnetic
microwire, and proprietary markers (secure label solutions, Acucote, Inc., Graham, NC,
Precisely positioned nanoclusters of metal particles on a highly reflective substrate make it possible to produce two- or
three-phase color-shift labels that offer visible and machine-readable color shifts that are exclusive to a product or company.
The metal clusters modify light waves as they enter the film. Optics within the film further alter the light as waves bounce
back from a reflective layer ("Color Spectra," DuPont, Wilmington, DE,