Many of us have heard about counterfeit pharmaceuticals: that someone somewhere sells harmless and cheap medication. You might even have encountered some of these sellers. However, the problem is way more severe than it is pictured. It’s not only some minor vendor who sells homemade herbal lotion, but it’s also a massive industry that tricks people into buying fraudulent drugs and risking their health and even lives. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals statistics show that fraudulent sales cost over US$200 billion every year globally.
You might be surprised how well counterfeiters camouflage fake drugs. With new technologies, it’s simple to recreate identical packaging, shape, and color of real medication. Therefore, it increases the risks of flooding the market with dangerous counterfeited drugs. The fraudulent market uses not only professionally reproduced packaging but also deceptive methods to sell medications and attract customers. For examples, most of the vendors operate online and use ads or spam emails to promote fake pharmaceuticals. As a result, many people can’t spot the difference, and they get involved in a hazardous activity and make anticounterfeit stand even harder.
Authorized pharmaceutical manufacturers are suffering from counterfeiters due to the loss in revenue and customers’ trust. However, the biggest threat is facing people who buy and use fake drugs, as their well-being and lives are put in danger. This relentless problem inspired us to write this article and dig deeper into counterfeit pharmaceutical production and possible harms.
How Can Counterfeited Pharmaceuticals Harm You?
Pharmaceuticals and personal care products go through many check-ups and regulations before they reach pharmacies and shops. These verifications help to determine quality products from invalid ones. Thus, only the best quality medication ends up in our bathroom cabinets. On the other hand, counterfeited drugs don’t go through authorized audits, and thereby can cause threats to one’s life and health.
In the best case scenario, fake pharmaceuticals don’t work because they don’t contain active elements. However, it can get way worse when instead of legit ingredients they are replaced by toxic parts or wrong active components. Not to mention, dozes of particular substances can be wrong and cause worse side effects. A horrifying case happened back in 1995 in Niger, when 2 500 kids died due to fake and inefficient vaccines during the meningitis outbreak.
These disturbing examples are one part of the bloody market. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a worldwide problem and affect many areas of our lives. Yet, the question appears: how these drugs get through such high regulated control and what could we do to reduce the level of the harmful activity?
How Can We Fight the Counterfeited Pharmaceutical Market?
The grey market of medication is a harsh issue, and due to lack of control, the industry is rapidly expanding. One of the most prominent recognized blind spots of the pharmaceutical industry is a supply chain. Drugs and other medication products become sensitive while moving through many distribution points. It is easy to misplace, steal or damage goods without anyone noticing. Although one of the most vulnerable parts, a supply chain is also the one that can be moderated.
What do we have in mind? Due to the growth of new technologies, it’s simpler to control such an essential process as distribution. Other than moving straight to fight the counterfeit market we can begin by protecting genuine products. It’s where blockchain comes in handy. Many times we’ve discussed the benefits of blockchain and how revolutionary the technology is. Now we want to highlight its potential to secure the pharmaceuticals supply chain.
Blockchain has an extensive database that can store unlimited amounts of data. This feature is excellent when registering supply chain records. For instance, track and trace could help to authorize goods during shipment. It could be registered on blockchain and show if the information is matching or something has happened to corrupt it.
It didn’t take long until LuxTag recognized the potential of this solution. We offer product tagging using blockchain technology which is easily adaptable to the pharmaceuticals industry. Our concept is simple: you, as a manufacturer, produce medications and tag them with QR or NFC tags. Then we will register each product and boxes on a blockchain system and upload the information of their origins. This way pharmaceuticals are protected during the journey of the supply chain. This innovative solution could help to reduce the level of counterfeit drugs in the market.
Counterfeit pharmaceuticals current status and future projections seem uncertain. It’s unbearable to fight something without awareness. We acknowledge that such a tremendous problem like fraudulent drugs has a long way to go to change, but we should understand what is possible to do at the moment. With the help of technologies, we can take actions and work towards reducing perils and protecting people from harmful drugs. Blockchain is one of the proven ways to ensure the authenticity of goods and bring the best outcome for its users. Therefore, by securing the market from fake drugs, we can move forward to fighting the roots of the problem.