June 8th 2016 was World Anti Counterfeiting Day, and experts from across the world gathered to highlight the dangers of counterfeiting in many industries. From pharmaceuticals to handbags, cosmetics to mozzarella, global industry is affected by counterfeiting and piracy, and, as any brand affected by having counterfeit products circulated can testify, identifying and addressing the counterfeiting cycle is exhaustive, costly, complex, and extremely time-consuming.
Counterfeit drugs cost pharmaceutical companies some $75 billion a year, and at least 10% of the world’s prescriptions are estimated to be fake. With the rise of the ‘pop-up’ internet pharmacy, with slick, professional looking websites, and packaging that looks the same as the brands you know, what’s to stop consumers purchasing fake drugs in good faith? And of course counterfeiting is by no means confined to online operators. Sophisticated and adaptable, counterfeiters can enter at any point of the production and distribution cycle, from incoming raw materials all the way to the packaged end product, as well as manufacturing fake drugs entirely independently via backyard labs and garages.
So, what are we doing to counter the counterfeiters? The myriad of anti-counterfeiting measures already in general use, from tamper evident/proof packaging, product authentication features, track and trace technology and product authentication in the lab, go a long way towards verifying and identifying a product as genuine. But the growth in the counterfeit industry year on year shows it’s simply not enough, and the speed and adaptability of counterfeit drug production requires a whole new mind set and approach to the standard ‘static’ detection and prevention methods.
The pharmaceutical industry and regulatory authorities are looking to take anti-counterfeiting measures out of the sterile facility environment and meet the challenges head on in the field. Direct action by frontline staff with the ability to accurately test, analyze and identify drug composition instantly at any point of the production and distribution cycle is absolutely vital if we are to do any real damage to the counterfeit drug supply chain.
The question is, how do we disrupt sophisticated counterfeit operations? The answer: we learn, adapt and respond in real-time, taking anti-counterfeit measures out into the real world, wherever, and whenever we need them. Instant on the spot verification and validation of drug API anywhere, any time by the people who most need it.
And now it’s possible. Recent advances in miniaturized technology have enabled Consumer Physics to build SCiO, the world’s first lab grade molecular sensor that actually fits in the palm of your hand. Extremely portable, easy to use, rapid, and robust, SCiO fundamentally changes the anti-counterfeit landscape, allowing both experts and non-experts in the field to deploy near-infrared spectrometry directly where it’s needed. A combination of two powerful technological components, the revolutionary SCiO Sensor housing our award winning miniaturized optical spectrometer, and the powerful SCiO Cloud hosting the material databases and chemometric models, makes it feasible to analyze drug products easily, and instantly, on and off site. Now robust, reliable data can be collected at any point of the manufacturing and distribution cycle, bringing the ability to take the “lab” to areas where rapid detection of counterfeit products is required. SCiO gives a real chance to put the counterfeiters on the back foot with powerful technology suitable for anyone who wants to deploy a lab grade spectrometer, wherever they need it – independent and retail pharmacies, field personnel in developing countries, regulatory authorities, drug importers, and any organization involved in pharmaceutical supply chains – and add a powerful, and extremely portable tool to their anti-counterfeiting strategy.