After a Record Year for Counterfeiting, Efforts Intensify to Secure the Supply Chain

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Cost and IT practices may be holding back progress.

2017 was the worst year on record for pharmaceutical counterfeiting and illegal diversion, according to the Pharmaceutical Security Institute.  Manufacturers, law-enforcement entities, and regulators are taking concrete steps to protect patients from fake and substandard drugs.

Around the world, many pharmaceutical manufacturers are laying a strong foundation for supply-chain safety. They are working to meet serialization requirements set by the US Drug Supply Chain Safety Act and the EU’s False Medicines Directive, as well as other requirements in other parts of the world.  An elite group is working on aggregation and more advanced traceability efforts.

However, issues such as cost and IT practices have been slowing progress, according to Richard Bergström, pharma lead for SICPA SA, a specialist in anticounterfeiting who was formerly director general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (EFPIA). For small companies, the cost of installing the technology is one issue, but the greatest challenge is in data transmission. 

As one of the key issues facing the pharmaceutical industry, supply chain security and anticounterfeiting will be discussed at CPhI in Madrid this week. On Tuesday October 9, at 3:50pm, Alastair Taylor of Systech, discussed the serious threat posed by counterfeiting, while on Wednesday October 10 at 3:50pm, Jon Luccada, chief science officer for pharmaceutical and medical products at StoelzeOberglass, will discuss tracking on primary pharmaceutical packaging.


For more coverage of the issues involved in preventing pharmaceutical diversion and counterfeiting, including an interview with Richard Bergström, read Pharmaceutical Technology’s September 2018 cover story, which also touches on efforts to fight counterfeiting and diversion at the distribution and drug-dispensing level (1).


1. A, Shanley, Pharmaceutical Technology, 42 (9) 2018.