By Sue Lee, Technical Portfolio Manager, World Courier Management
The cost associated with counterfeit drugs is staggering - both in human and commercial terms. In some cases, patients are deprived of treatment for diseases and conditions that range from mild to severe to life-threatening. In other cases, they are harmed by dangerous substances in the product, or become resistant to traditional therapeutic treatments or vaccines. In all cases, the public loses confidence in the companies that develop these drugs and in the very agencies that have been established to protect them. For the pharmaceutical industry, the prevalence of counterfeit drugs can represent loss of reputation, loss of valuable R&D efforts and intellectual property, loss of revenue and increased costs. Many companies, for instance, now operate their own anti-counterfeit units to police their product lines and reduce the impact of counterfeiting on the organisation. Despite these efforts, the growth of counterfeit drugs is only expected to increase within the parameters of a globalized industry, especially as the cost of healthcare spirals worldwide. What can pharmaceutical professionals do to ensure that their organisations and the patients they serve are not impacted by counterfeit drugs? The answer is to identify their highest-risk products and shipments and to secure their supply chain to the fullest extent possible.