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Thinking Inside the Box

 

Today, the various members of the pharmaceutical supply chain find themselves in an expanding global marketplace and in the midst of an ever growing epidemic that threatens each relevant party. As globalisation increases, so too does the risk of counterfeit, substandard or fraudulent medications within the supply chain. This increase in risk threatens both the economic and physical health of the pharmaceutical industry and its consumers. Here are a few staggering statistics related to this scourge:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) conservatively estimates that counterfeit medications will be a $75 billion global industry in 2010 (1)
  • The WHO projects the annual growth of counterfeit medications to be between 12 and 16 per cent annually, worldwide (1)
  • According to the WHO, more than 2,000 children in Africa alone die each day as a result of taking counterfeit medications (2) 
  • The WHO reports that, across the world, 10 per cent of pharmaceuticals are counterfeit, fraudulent or adulterated. Proliferation and percentages are much higher in developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America, with up to 50 per cent of the supply chain projected to be identified as counterfeit or adulterated (1)

TRACK AND TRACE

To date, nearly all of the solutions for this global epidemic emphasise what are known as ‘track and trace’ methods (such as barcodes, holograms, RFID, pedigree, taggants and serialisation). These solutions are primarily based on traditional technology for inventory control and security and are common within most sophisticated supply chains. They are incredibly effective in tracking products, especially in direct or short supply chains, where the additional cost can be justified in their inventory control capabilities because the members of the supply chain use common systems and tools for tracking, distribution and sales. However, track and trace solutions have their limitations. They generally require some sort of addition to the outside of the box or package, and a common technology to be read and documented. These processes and technologies add further cost to the product and are difficult to maintain across large global supply chains. In addition, because of its external placement, the track and trace item may be easily replicated, and it does not verify that the material inside the package is safe and efficacious.


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Alan Clock, Senior Vice-President of XStream Systems, has over 20 years of pharmaceutical, healthcare and sales distribution experience. Alan has an impressive track record of promoting comprehensive solutions to healthcare providers, distributors, large corporate entities, group purchasing organisations, employer groups and managed care organisations. He has held senior sales executive and national account roles for major Fortune 100 healthcare industry leaders and has successfully negotiated and sold billions of dollars in multi-year pharmaceutical service, software, equipment, packaging and consulting agreements.
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