Beating the drug counterfeiters


There is a very real global problem out there.

One that is seemingly hidden in plain sight, it is estimated to be responsible for a million deaths across the globe every year.

It is predicted that 10% of pharma products worldwide are counterfeit, with British researchers estimating that the death-toll caused as a result could increase to 10 million people by 2050. Already, the global counterfeit drug market exceeds an eye-watering $75bn – and with the world scrambling to create a vaccine against COVID-19, these figures are set to explode over the coming years.

The problem is so severe that the pharmaceutical sector is in the midst of stepping up the battle against the fraudsters forging the very drugs and medicines originally designed to make them better.

Earlier this year, Parabellum Investments acquired advanco, a company whose serialisation solution tracks drugs at every stage of the supply chain – from the production line to the pharmacy and right through to the patient.

The company has now stepped up in its quest to beat the counterfeiters by partnering with the former Bosch technology giant Syntegon. It is one of the leading global process and packaging technology providers and has enabled significant benefits for the pharma sector. It has moved the serialization supply chain from a rigid to an agile model, encouraging industry openness, while significantly lowering the overall cost for essential serialization services.

The establishment of OPEN-SCS, the industry body responsible for promoting common standards across the pharma sector, is another a solid step forward in the fight against fake medicines. OPEN-SCS is a working group in the OPC Foundation, whose success speaks for itself. Today, there are more than 4,200 suppliers who have created more than 35,000 different OPC products used in more than 17 million applications. The estimate of the savings in engineering resources alone is in the billions of dollars.

With further developments such as the partnership between advanco (one of the founding members of OPEN-SCS) and Syntegon reinforcing the need for an open dialogue, we will together stand a much better chance of defeating the forgers and saving millions of lives across the world.

Rami Cassis
21st September 2020