Recent reports indicate that when it comes to pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products and their active ingredients, counterfeiting continues to be a challenging problem. According to the USTR’s (United States Trade Representative) 2017 report published this month (Special 301 Report), last year about 90% of the counterfeit pharmaceuticals seized in the U.S. originated from China, Singapore, and India. Overall, this accounts for approximately 16% of counterfeit goods in the U.S. in 2016 seized by the U.S. government, which is down slightly from 2015 in regards to pharmaceutical products.
The report also claims global customs and other authorities have been focusing more attention on pharmaceuticals manufactured, distributed or sold in Peru, Lebanon, Indonesia, Guatemala, China, and Russia. The report states that one major reason counterfeit pharmaceuticals are still so prevalent on the global market is a lack of severe criminal penalties, although U.S. customs authorities are working in conjunction with authorities globally to prevent sales of fake drugs in the U.S., the most recent focus on China and Singapore.
A month-long operation with China in April of last year resulted in seizures of more than 1,400 counterfeit products, some of those being pharmaceutical goods.
Some of the loopholes making it possible for counterfeiters to continue their efforts include online sales, express mail, and traditional shipments through the post office in small quantities which helps counterfeiters stay under the radar as opposed to larger ocean cargo shipments. Because most counterfeiting offenses are classified as misdemeanors and therefore carry less severe penalties than felony crimes, counterfeiters find the potential profits are worth the risk when compared to the lax legal penalties.
Officials say free-trade zones are another issue that need to be addressed, for instance transshipment of counterfeit goods with the United Arab Emirates. In the end, all of the experts believe the key to shutting down drug counterfeiting, or at least drastically reducing its occurrence, is improved enforcement and harsher criminal penalties.
Pharmaceutical companies know how counterfeiting can impact their brands and consumer trust. At REA JET we provide reliable coding and marking solutions for the pharmaceutical industry that not only provide clear, precise marking but help guard against counterfeiting as well.