There are many cases of counterfeit drugs around the world that corroborate the problem. For example, in 2012 an adulterated cough medicine killed 60 people in Pakistan and 40 children had to be hospitalized in Paraguay. At that time, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an alert and all batches were withdrawn from the markets (Europe, Africa, North America and Latin America), except in the Middle East, where said batch could never be traced.
These cases are a relevant example of the consequences that an adulterated drug can have on the market and how complex monitoring can be if there are no adequate traceability tools.
Avoid drug adulteration
Drug adulteration is a serious problem that currently occurs in the pharmaceutical trade. It puts the health of patients at risk and affects the profits of companies dedicated to the production, storage, and distribution of medicines, with high monetary losses.
The variety of counterfeit products has also increased due to the spread of Internet commerce, which encompasses a bewildering range of drugs, both brand-name and generic. According to the WHO, in more than 50% of cases it has been proven that medicines purchased through websites without a declared registered address are counterfeit products.
Several factors facilitate drug adulteration:
- the lack of legislation or, if it exists, its weakness or non-compliance.
- a national drug regulatory authority absent or with little power
- ineffective criminal penalties
- transactions involving many intermediaries
- demand exceeds supply
- lack of regulation in exporting countries and within free trade areas
Guarantee patient safety with traceability
One of the measures that have been taken to stop the adulteration of drugs consists of the packaging of the drugs, which must include two security features: a two-dimensional barcode or a unique identifier and a tamper-proof device.
The distribution of adulterated drugs can be avoided with the implementation of serialization and traceability, which aims to control in real time all the transactions through which the drug passes from its production or import, through the distribution chain and supply, until reaching the patient.
Any alteration in the delivery and distribution of the medicine would be registered in the traceability system, with which the product could be traced in case of theft. And, above all, keep control of each piece produced and delivered with a single coding, which complies with the strictest standards and is applicable to current international regulations, so that said coding cannot be altered.
Implement traceability in my laboratory
One of the main benefits of incorporating a traceability system is that it helps reduce times in reception and dispatch areas, reduces counterfeiting of medicines, facilitates inventory controls, and gives total control of distribution within the marketing chain which ensures the health of patients.
The traceability system has unique identification technologies so that each drug can be safely marketed, which allows real-time monitoring of each unit through the distribution chain (laboratories, distributors, logistics operators, drug stores, pharmacies, healthcare facilities and patients).
Likewise, the traceability system makes it possible to trace a stolen or adulterated drug so that it cannot be marketed, does not reach the hands of the patient and, therefore, does not put their health at risk.
In addition, a complete traceability system can count on the functionality of the patients themselves confirming the originality of the medicine.
Drug adulteration is an indisputable global problem, which affects the health of consumers and the functioning of the pharmaceutical industry. In order to take care of the health of patients, protect the brand and reduce adulteration, counterfeiting and drug theft, it will be necessary to implement a traceability system that ensures the origin and destination of medical products.