The Counterfeiting Epidemic: From Pharmacies, to Hospitals to Your Home

January 28, 2015 - Industry News

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According to recent estimates from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), counterfeit goods may cost the economy up to $250 billion a year.1 This is a global problem to be sure, however millions of those products are shipped to the United States every year.

Often when we think of counterfeit items, consumer goods such as high-end jewelry or handbags come to mind. Not only does this cost retailers billions of dollars each year, but we as consumers are also at risk. Imagine lacing up your brand new Air Jordan’s before a game only to realize that you paid the top-dollar for knockoffs worth only a fraction of their cost to you.  Frustrating to say the least.  Maddening if you think about it long enough.  How about life-threatening?  Probably a bridge too far for a pair of sneakers, but counterfeiting effects industries that can have a direct impact on our health and safety.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents seized nearly $80 million in counterfeit pharmaceuticals and personal care products last year.2 In this case, counterfeiting can have life-threatening consequences especially in developing countries that lack the regulatory and policing resources of the United States.  For instance, The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 200,000 people die each year due to ineffective and substandard malaria drugs that don’t clear a patient’s system of the active parasite.

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Wealthy countries are also at risk. Although, many counterfeited drugs in North America can be categorized as “lifestyle” drugs such as Viagra, rather than life-saving drugs, some claim that the legitimate supply chain has been compromised. Roger Bate, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and expert on counterfeit prescription drugs says “You could go into a CVS or a Walgreens to fill your prescription for whatever it may be—it could be for a heart medication, a cancer drug, an antibiotic—and you could be killed by that medicine.”

The WHO reports similar issues in the medical device market. Healthcare equipment and in vitro diagnostics covers a very broad range of products from tongue depressors to very complex medical devices. The WHO reported in 2010 that over 8% of these devices in circulation were counterfeit. The market for these devices is set to increase by 50% in 2014, which highlights their increasing role in healthcare.3

JADAK has recently teamed up with Zortag to provide our customers anti-counterfeiting measures that are easy to apply yet impossible to duplicate – even for the manufacturer. To learn about our anti-counterfeiting solutions for medical, industrial, retail and more, contact us at 888-388-0490.

1      Counterfeit products may cost the global economy up to $250 billion a year, according to estimates from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): Detroit Free Press [web news article]. Available from: Accessed January 5, 2015

2      U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents seized nearly $80 million in counterfeit pharmaceuticals and personal care products last year. Available from: Accessed January 5, 2015

3      Over 8% of medical devices in circulation are counterfeit: WHO [webpage on the Internet]. Available from: Accessed October 4, 2013.

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