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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Taking the Counterfeit Risk Out of Traceability

A drug might go through up to 20 processes before it reaches patients. Since pharmaceutical supply chains are becoming longer, the risk of counterfeits making their way into the market is increasing. Pharmaceutical companies, associations and politicians are demanding track and trace devices for traceability and security against the counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals.

According to prognoses by WHO, the sales generated with counterfeit pharmaceuticals will reach $75 billion by 2010. This significant problem requires an urgent solution to ensure the safety of consumers. A combination of traceability and anti-fake marks could provide the answer.

According to the WHO, a counterfeit drug is a medicine that is deliberately and fraudulently mislabelled with respect to identity or source. A counterfeit might contain a wrong agent, or indeed no active agent at all. Counterfeiting, however, is not only limited to the drugs themselves – often the packaging of pharmaceuticals is also counterfeited.

Genuine pharmaceuticals can be wrongly packaged, so that for instance a patient buying heart pills might take a completely different drug without knowing. The fraud cannot be recognised at first (and sometimes not even at second) sight if the counterfeit drugs and the packaging are just too true to the original.

Besides enormous losses for the pharmaceutical industry, the immediate danger for consumers has become more prevalent. If fake drugs are circulated, this poses serious health risks for patients. In the past few years, the case of counterfeit anti-malarial drugs with the active agent Artesunat was published in the media and again made us aware of the danger of counterfeit drugs. The counterfeits contained either little or none of the Chinese herbs that are used to fight the most dangerous form of malaria.


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Nicole Golomb is Marketing and Sales Manager for anti-counterfeit systems at 3S Simons Security Systems GmbH, Germany. She is in charge of the management of the specific customer projects dealing with individual applications of the micro colour-code system SECUTAG® on branded articles. Additionally, Nicole is responsible for the analysis of processing technologies in specific industries and the product protection system’s integration in the different sectors.
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