Thursday, August 5, 2010

Anti-Counterfeiting: Thinking Inside the Box

The following is a re-post of blog that was originally posted in Secure Pharma Chain in November 2009. This blog is an excerpt of an article on an authentication as a pharmaceutical anti-counterfeiting solution.

The Autumn 2009 issue of Pharmaceutical Manufacturer and Packing Sourcer (PMPS) features an editorial article written by XStream Systems’ Senior Vice President, Alan Clock.

The editorial piece discusses analyzes the various segments of anti-counterfeiting technology and introducing EDXRD and material screening as a robust tool in combating counterfeit, adulterated and fraudulent medications within the global supply chain.

The phrase, “Thinking Inside the Box” refers to EDXRD’s capability to screen and authenticate materials inside their sealed, unit-of-sale containers without destroying or degrading the materials. This unique solution allows all members of the pharmaceutical supply chain to efficiently, accurately and inexpensively test and screen product to ensure that their inventories are safe and efficacious.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Today, the various members of the pharmaceutical supply chain find themselves in an expanding global marketplace and in the midst of an ever growing epidemic that threatens each relevant party. As globalization increases, so too does the risk of counterfeit, substandard or fraudulent medications within the supply chain. This increase in risk threatens both the economic and physical health of the pharmaceutical industry and its consumers.

Here are a few staggering statistics related to this scourge:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) conservatively estimates that counterfeit medications will be a $75 billion global industry in 2010.
  • The WHO projects the annual growth of counterfeit medications to be between 12 and 16 per cent annually, worldwide.
  • According to the WHO, more than 2,000 children in Africa alone die each day as a result of taking counterfeit medications.
  • The WHO reports that, across the world, 10 per cent of pharmaceuticals are counterfeit, fraudulent or adulterated. Proliferation and percentages are much higher in developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America, with up to 50 per cent of the supply chain projected to be identified as counterfeit or adulterated.


To date, nearly all of the solutions for this global epidemic emphasize what are known as ‘track and trace’ methods (such as barcodes, holograms, RFID, pedigree, taggants and serialization).

These solutions are primarily based on traditional technology for inventory control and security and are common within most sophisticated supply chains.

They are incredibly effective in tracking products, especially in direct or short supply chains, where the additional cost can be justified in their inventory control capabilities because the members of the supply chain use common systems and tools for tracking, distribution and sales.

However, track and trace solutions have their limitations. They generally require some sort of addition to the outside of the box or package, and a common technology to be read and documented.

These processes and technologies add further cost to the product and are difficult to maintain across large global supply chains.

In addition, because of its external placement, the track and trace item may be easily replicated, and it does not verify that the material inside the package is safe and efficacious.

To read the complete article either visit PMPS at

Or visit XStream Systems website at

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