Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Turkish Government to Delay Implementation of Barcode System to Stamp Out counterfeit Drugs

Initiative officially delayed until October, but industry experts anticipate the process to be pushed back further.

The Turkish newspaper, Today’s Zaman recently published a story about the implementation of a drug tracking barcode system in place to combat counterfeit drug in Turkey. However since the publication of the article, pressure from pharmacies has delayed the implementation from July to October. Most industry experts expect the delays to go beyond the October schedule because of the significant costs to small dispensing pharmacies.
According to the article:
  • Turkey is identified as being one of the largest global purveyors of counterfeit drugs.

  • The ambitious tracking system, which industry insiders estimate has already cost more than $200 million this year alone in the run-up to its implementation, has been fraught with difficulties.

  • Dr. Roger Bate in last week's Journal of the American Enterprise Institute, his limited study of a small sample of drugs in the US purchased over the Internet revealed that Turkey is the largest single supplier of drugs bought online in the US. He documented a number of raids in Turkey that revealed all aspects of the counterfeit drug trade -- importers and local manufacturers of counterfeit products, wholesale distributors repackaging fake and old medicines that should have been destroyed and printers making packaging for the manufacturers. “The products I have seen,” he told Today's Zaman, “were manufactured by large Western companies in Turkey for the Turkish market which were diverted -- possibly illegally -- to the US by Internet sellers.”

  • The implementation of this system is also meant to act as a prevention of fraud against the medical insurance system, which is being defrauded by unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists hungry to take advantage of the easily cheated system.

  • Pharmaceutical companies -- the ones whose pocket books are arguably most affected by the proliferation of counterfeit drugs in Turkey -- have been amongst those who were resisting the implementation of the barcode system.
Most have said that this program which is slated to use a GS1-compliant 2D barcode will cost the country over $150m per year. The delay in this program is seen as a major setback to companies who tout track and trace technologies as the answer to counterfeit and adulterated medications.
XStream endorses all solutions to the issue of counterfeit, adulterated and diverted medications and believes that a comprehensive suite of technologies are necessary to adequately protect the global pharmaceutical supply chain. XStream believes that autentication and verification of the contents of the unit of sale, which is available via its XT250, is a critically important componant to securing medications from production to dispensing.

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