Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Decade of the Counterfeit-Part One

This is the first installment of a two part opinion blog by Alan Clock, Senior Vice President at XStream Systems, Inc. that was posted last January on Secure Pharma Chain.

The first decade of the 21st century could carry many labels given the rise of global terrorism, a bursting housing bubble and a worldwide financial meltdown. However one very appropriate label, albeit lesser known by the masses, would be the Decade of the Counterfeit.

Although counterfeit materials and fraudulent supplies have been around for centuries, with the emergence of far reaching global supply chains and an expanding worldwide economy, the criminal activity of producing counterfeit goods have propagated and is impacting a greater number of consumers more than ever before.

In modern times counterfeit products go well beyond the conventional bogus purses and knock off apparel that we traditionally associate with this fraudulent activity. The scope and audacity of the contemporary counterfeiter goes well beyond what has traditionally been considered to be a victimless crime.

Today’s counterfeit products include every product that is used today. This runs the gamut from commercial aircraft parts to sophisticated electronics, and from consumer goods to food and life saving healthcare products. Counterfeited products include all of the goods that consumers rely upon for their safety and well being. At best, these bogus products fall short of their consumer’s expectation while at worst they threaten a population’s safety and overall health.

An insidious example of how counterfeit activity can create a deadly consequence and cause thousands to die is documented by the issue of counterfeit drugs causing drug resistant disease strains in underdeveloped countries in Africa and Asia.

With medical science producing drugs that can effectively cure or curb diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS, unscrupulous counterfeiters are producing fake drugs with only a trace of the real drug’s active ingredient. The counterfeiters put only enough of the real ingredients in to fool rudimentary testing processes. The unfortunate side effect of these bogus treatments is that not only do they not provide any therapeutic cure, they actually create more dangerous strains of the disease that are impervious and resistant to the known drug regimens used to treat the illness.

The World Health Organization estimates that upwards of 2,000 children per day die as a result of taking counterfeits medications in Africa alone.

Well over 1 million children die in Africa and Asia die each year because of counterfeit drug medications.

A few global statistics from the World Health Organization regarding pharmaceuticals, even further energizes the debate regarding the label Decade of the Counterfeit:

• In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) conservatively estimates that counterfeit medications will be a $75 billion industry worldwide.

• The WHO projects growth of counterfeit medications to be over 12-16% annually, worldwide.

• The WHO Reports that globally 10% of Pharmaceuticals are counterfeit, fraudulent or adulterated.

How do we as a society both domestically and globally solve this growing threat and eliminate the danger that looms as its deadly consequence to us all?

Alan Clock, Senior Vice-President of XStream Systems has over 20 years of pharmaceutical, healthcare and sales distribution experience. Mr. Clock has an impressive track record of promoting comprehensive solutions to healthcare providers, distributors, large corporate entities, group purchasing organizations, employer groups and managed care organizations. He has held senior sales executive and national account roles for major Fortune 100 healthcare industry leaders and has successfully negotiated and sold billions of dollars in multi-year pharmaceutical service, software, equipment, packaging and consulting agreements.

View Part Two of the opinion blog tomorrow on Secure Pharma Chain.

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