Is it possible to protect drugs, patients and manufacturers at the same time?

How would the perfect drug anti-counterfeit protection look? There would be an advanced hologram or another very strong protection element on each package. The details would be published on the Internet. It could be for instance a sophisticated hologram supplemented by other anti-counterfeit protection elements. In addition to that, the packaging would also include hidden protection.

At all places with Internet access, doctors and other users would be able to identify genuineness of protection elements easily. If there were a risk that counterfeiter can imitate them, they would be immediately replaced with something stronger.

Doctor and those patients who do protect their health would check anti-counterfeiting protection elements quite regularly. Nobody wants to take drugs with no guarantee what is inside.

In addition to that, a group of risk takers would exist similar to people who currently intentionally buy fake viagra. But those people risk only their health. Most of them are not ready to spend money on more expensive genuine drugs anyway. Impact on producers is thus just limited. And there are also marginal groups, such as the hopeless population of impoverished countries who cannot afford genuine drugs under any arrangement.

Nobody would be worse than today. The processes would be much simpler. And it is possible that manufacturers would decrease costs, in comparison with the current situation of running entire divisions focused on market watching and large teams of lawyers.

However, the situation on the market is entirely different. Anti-counterfeit protections elements are added to drug package, but they are used mainly for tracking. If hospitals purchase directly from manufacturers, or through a single distributor, such features are beneficial.

Beside it, there is a vast area where genuine drug producers need to watch situation across marketplaces, check the origin of products and perhaps initiate a police action. Taxpayers cover a significant proportion of costs (public health requirements can justify it) and operators of marketplaces and end customers.

We have warned on this blog for a long time that such strategy will result in market destruction. Even the giant Amazon had to delist some classes of items because it was not able to run sophisticated system of checking the origin of each product. Typical loss-loss situation. Amazon loses revenue, but the vendors lose a market with more than 100 million users.

It appears that the impact is even more severe and includes limitation of drug access for people in impoverished countries. A few weeks ago, a group of humanitarian organisations underlined this aspect, criticising Europan union in their open letter. European Commission published a list of marketplaces with insufficient protection against counterfeited products. It seems it is a part of long-term effort to press the national governments to close these marketplaces or enforce implementing more robust anti-counterfeit protection processes.  But stronger protection measures cost more money. It may be difficult even for giants to finance it (as we see on the case of Amazon) and destruction for the weak. Stronger anti-counterfeit protection of marketplaces thus leads to cutting people in poor regions from genuine and counterfeited drugs.

A risk that counterfeited drugs from impoverished countries get to Europe is pretty small. Profound border checks focused on fakes prevent this kind of imports. It seems that EU protects its corporation. It is a legitimate purpose but not at the expense of other people in other countries. What about focusing effort instead on forcing manufacturers to implement stronger anti-counterfeit protection elements (no outdated simple holograms or guilloches anymore). EU should also build a single database of anti-counterfeit protection elements so that a user can ask about any drug produced in EU and can see what holograms or other protection elements should the package include.

Not only pharmacy industry would benefit from it. It would be an excellent example for premium brand producers. Most of them understand they need to move toward massive implementation of anti-counterfeit protection elements but do not hurry.


Optaglio helps through its products and services that include:

Continuous innovation and technological development to keep advantage against counterfeiters.

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