Counterfeit Drugs


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They’re so hard to spot that even brand managers may have a hard time distinguishing a fake pharmaceutical product from a genuine one.
Manufacturers of counterfeit medicines have become so sophisticated they are able to accurately duplicate the look and feel of many products despite efforts by the industry to thwart counterfeiting.
Even when manufacturers put a new technology in place to distinguish their products from the fakes, it takes just one to three months before the counterfeiters have duplicated the technology, says Chris Clauss, director of sensor network solutions at IBM.
“We will never be able to stop counterfeiting 100% of the time,” he says. “The trick is to raise the bar so high that counterfeiting is no longer profitable. There are many techniques and security measures that we can use to make it very difficult to create a counterfeit drug. The process to duplicate a product needs to be so difficult that it becomes economically untenable.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a counterfeit medicine as: “A medicine that is deliberately and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to identity and/or source. Counterfeiting can apply to both branded and generic products and counterfeit products may include products with the correct ingredients or with the wrong ingredients…

According to the WHO
Counterfeiting and Online Pharmacies
Counterfeiting: A primer
Infiltration of the U.S. Drug Supply

Chris Clauss. Director of Sensor Network Solutions, IBM, Armonk, N.Y.; IBM helps clients succeed in delivering business value by becoming more efficient and competitive through the use of business insights and IT solutions. For more information, visit
MaryAnn M. Hegedus. Business Development Manager, Brand Enhancement, Colorcon, West Point, Pa.; Colorcon provides development, supply, and technical support of formulated coatings and other excipients for the pharmaceutical industry. For more information, visit
Les Jordan. Industry Technology Strategist, Life Sciences, Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.; Microsoft provides
software, services, and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. For more information, visit
Ellen Reilly. Managing Director, Life Sciences, BearingPoint Inc., McLean, Va.; BearingPoint is a provider of management and technology consulting services. For more information, visit
Peter Spellman. Founder and Senior VP, Products and SaaS, SupplyScape Corp., Woburn, Mass.; SupplyScape is a provider of software and consulting services to secure the safety and value of the global life-sciences supply chain. For more information, visit
Jim Thomson. Chair, European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM), Cardiff, United Kingdom; EAASM is an
independent, cross-sector patient safety alliance campaigning for the exclusion of counterfeit and substandard medicines from the supply chain. For more information, visit