The shocking scale of China's counterfeit medicine business was exposed in a recent sampling of drugs in Southeast Asia by Oxford University's Centre for Tropical Medicine in Vientiane, Laos. The centre reportedly found bogus antibiotics, tuberculosis drugs, AIDS anti-retrovirals and meningitis vaccines. A total of 53 percent of the anti-malarial drugs tested were fakes, and a charity in Myanmar that bought 100,000 tablets found they were all counterfeit.
Wrapped in packaging complete with anti-forgery holograms - and even cause convincing side effects in patients - the bogus medicine is difficult to spot, and as a doctor at the Laos centre said, the drugs were not being produced in someone's kitchen but "on an industrial scale".
It is the bargain-hunting consumer who revs the engine driving the pirate business, but unlike the masses of pirated blockbuster movies on the streets of Asia and copied fashion items, there are some products that the consumer would be happy to pay top dollar for. Life-saving medicines, for instance. Or aircraft parts.
Drug companies need to secure their supplies and ensure their 3PLs - in-house or out - have the security in place to prevent bogus medicine flooding legitimate markets. And wholesale buyers of medicine such as charities and national health departments should understand that when it comes to sourcing critical drugs, bargain hunting is just asking to be ripped off.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Security issue raised here: