Since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, substandard, spurious, falsely labelled, falsified, and counterfeit (SSFFC) medical products including medicines, sanitization items, safety essentials, PPE kits, and other essentials have surfaced. Even incidents of falsified Covid-19 vaccines have come to light, said Nakul Pasricha, president, ASPA.
Though regulators are enhancing vigilance measures, yet companies need to accelerate the pace of using anti-counterfeiting technologies. These according to ASPA chief will support regulators and pharma & medical device companies to identify and authenticate genuine products.
As this crisis unfolds, this scenario is a wake-up call to accelerate efforts in fighting against fakes in India, especially medicines, vaccines, among other medical supplies, Pasricha told Pharmabiz.
Even the World Health Organization in its report indicated that falsified Covid-19 vaccines were identified in Africa and South-East Asia region including India, said Pasricha adding that companies needed to take cognisance and refer to the WHO manual for selection of authentication & traceability technologies to prevent and detect SSFFC medical products.
While investing in any anti-counterfeiting technology, companies need to opt for a combination of physical and digital tools. It is also equally important to adopt at least one combination of overt and covert technologies, he said.
Even selection of vendors is particularly important to maintain quality and ensure ethical practices which include a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Further, the vendor should have experience, technology strengths, must also be an ASPA member and not a trader as an audit of the facility is a requisite. The security of the pharmaceutical supply chain can be strengthened by innovative packaging technologies and better business practices, he noted.
Further, brand owners need to develop an integrated strategy that would involve consumers and channel partners in the authentication process. They should educate, issue guidelines & empower consumers with information to identify whether they are being given authentic products. This can include special details on the item’s packaging, special security tags or integrated technology, serial codes, and any other relevant product details.
Noting that fighting counterfeiting is everyone’s business, Pasricha said that manufacturers and marketing companies need to participate in completing the authentication process by placing order from trusted sources and ensure a bill is made available for the transaction. Post-purchase too, there is a need to be part of the authentication process provided by brands.
Pharma and medical device companies also need to demand protection from the government for its trusted brands. If consumers unwittingly purchases a counterfeit, they must report to the company or the consumer rights forum. It is also equally crucial that the consumers cannot allow such incidents to go unreported as it encourages those who profit from illegal acts. Hence we insist use of anti-counterfeit technology packs to thwart rising incidents of fake vaccine and drugs, said Pasricha.