What’s in Your Pill? How Track and Trace Serialisation Seeks to End Counterfeiting

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In the past month, nearly half of U.S. citizens report to having used at least one prescription medication. If you are a part of this 50%, you may be at risk of ingesting fake medication that could either prevent you from recovery, or even worse — make you sicker than you were before.

So how does this happen? As you may already know, the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most lucrative enterprises in America. In 2011 alone, the selling of pharmaceuticals amounted to over a whopping $2 billion, and the year before, doctors ordered almost 300 million prescriptions for outpatient visits. Since then, that number has climbed. But unfortunately, counterfeiters see this rise in industry and want their own piece of the pie. Thus, counterfeit drugs enter the market.

These faux medications look almost identical to the authentic drugs accredited by the FDA. The danger, however, lays in their composition. Some counterfeit drugs are entirely ineffectual, containing substances such as saline, salt and dextrose. But in many counterfeit medications, you can come across household chemicals such as road paint, brick dust, floor wax, and sheet rock. Counterfeit drugs may also contain heavy metals, such as mercury or aluminum. Some even contain straight up poison.

Fortunately, America’s medical packaging companies are working diligently to end this dangerous counterfeiting trend. Their solution? Track and trace pharmaceuticals.

Track and trace pharma is a anti-counterfeit method that employs serialisation as a means of authenticating and identifying the medication’s exact steps along the pharmaceutical supply chain. The serial number itself is considered an e pedigree solution, meaning it is an electronic statement of origin for the drug.

Although counterfeit drugs only account for 1% of drug sales in total, when broken down this ends up being millions of prescriptions. While this poses safety threats for millions of individuals, it also directly takes money out of the pockets of pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, and suppliers. Track and trace serialisation is a means of ensuring authenticity at the source, making it difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate these methods.