In 2019, 250,000 children died as a result of fake pharmaceuticals and counterfeit copies of pills. In some cases, they simply didn’t have access to real, lifesaving medication, in others the counterfeit pills themselves killed them.
In 2017, $51 million worth of fake medical pills and devices were seized in the US. That number has only grown.In the US, 7 million aortic pumps were recalled after it was discovered that they were counterfeited. This may have caused the deaths of 7 million Americans. This was not a case where consumers bought fake medical devices. This was a horror movie of a scenario, where medical companies were infiltrated by counterfeiters.
Counterfeited medical devices can kill consumers, harm millions around the world and inflict serious damage on pharmaceutical companies around the world. The police are hard pressed to deal with such a global issue and consumers do not realise that over 50% of the medical devices available online are fake, according to the WHO.
It’s up to the pharmaceutical companies to halt the dangerous proliferation of fake, counterfeit medical devices. Medical device manufactures should collaborate with security companies to protect their consumers in several ways. Firstly, the packaging itself can feature tamper-evident box seals, highly complex multi-layer authentication labels, or dust-sized or micro particles incorporated into labels, or the device itself. Composed of silicon dioxide, they contain digital information which can be used to identify, trace, and authenticate medical products. Electronic authentication signals can be added to existing circuitry without compromising on the functionality of the device. All these methods are good starting points, but pharmaceutical companies and medical suppliers must invest in distinctive packaging that assures the consumer themselves of authenticity because the consumers will not be scanning codes or looking for circuit signals.
Manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies need to be on top of every stage in the supply chain, all the way to the consumer. Signed, authenticated documentation and tracked deliveries must be the standardised norm.Even doctors cannot differentiate between the real medical devices and sophisticated fakes. Research suggests that between 6-8% of medical devices that are being used by trained professionals are fake.
It’s important that medical device suppliers hire security companies to ensure that the products they manufacture and receive are safe.
As the medical device scene becomes increasingly more global, avenues for counterfeiters are widening. It’s hard to track devices across the world and develop solutions that will be carried through across several countries and continents. That’s why we use several solutions to keep you, your products and your customers safe.
There is no magic solution to counterfeiting. But with a multi layered approach, combining technology, consumer education and several legal avenues, we help you to help your customers.