Drug counterfeiting is on the rise, but solutions are on the way

The tide of counterfeit pharmaceuticals continues to rise around the world. The most recent World Health Organization numbers suggest a market worth at least $35 billion/year. (To download a PDF of a recent report on the state of drug counterfeiting, click here.) Nations around the world are taking steps to address the problem. In the U.S. last week, the FDA held the Anticounterfeit Drug Initiative Public Workshop, which focused on the use of RFID and electronic pedigrees for pharmaceuticals. For a summary of what happened at the conference from RFID Journal, click here. The U.S. drug supply is somewhat vulnerable, since drugs are repackaged by distributors, rather than manufacturers. But even a supply chain as secure as the U.K.'s is vulnerable. A few weeks ago, a parliamentary debate on drug counterfeiting was held in the U.K., in the House of Commons, at which MP Charles Walker described the extent of the problem. To access a transcript, click here. China is in the forefront of the drug counterfeiting news these days. For a recent article about Pfizer's recent encounters with drug counterfeiters in China, click here. But help is on the way. The spectroscopy vendor, Bruker Optics, will supply the Chinese government with NIR spectrometers, some of which will be used in mobile labs, to help the nation's drug safety authority keep track of fakes. For more information, click here. -AMS