SCRS Conference Day 2 Session #5
Defending the Brand Against Counterfeits: Strategies for Ensuring Authenticity & Security in Supply Chain
By Ramesh Raj, Regional Director – Asia Pacific, Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI)
Brand counterfeits pose a significant threat to both businesses and consumers. These illicit items undermine the original brand’s reputation and value and jeopardize consumer safety and satisfaction. Counterfeiters often prioritize profit over quality, using substandard materials and production methods that can result in unsafe, inferior, or harmful products. To combat brand counterfeits, it is essential for businesses to implement anti-counterfeiting measures, collaborate with law enforcement agencies, and raise awareness among consumers about the risks associated with counterfeit products.
Criminals Shifting Focus to Critical Medication
Mr. Ramesh Raj, Regional Director of Asia Pacific at Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI), brought to light that approximately 300,000 children lose their lives each year due to the consumption of counterfeit medicines, and this figure is only an estimate from reports made. Determining the exact impact is difficult due to various factors, such as limited reporting and the reluctance of pharmaceutical and healthcare institutions to disclose such incidents.
Criminal syndicates have transitioned from producing counterfeit lifestyle drugs to manufacturing counterfeit medications crucial for saving lives. In the early days, these syndicates focused on drugs like Viagra and Cialis, but their illicit activities have expanded to include medications for diabetes, COVID-19, high blood pressure, and heart conditions. In healthcare, these syndicates may collaborate with doctors and procurement companies, enabling them to source and distribute counterfeit medicines. The extent of these illicit activities underscores the need for heightened vigilance and stringent measures to combat such criminal behavior in the interest of public health and safety.
Criminal syndicates operate at the supply chain’s highest and lowest levels. It is imperative to remain vigilant when handling and transporting these critical medications. If companies have clients involved in the distribution or transportation of such life-saving drugs, these are the specific products that require heightened scrutiny. Extra precautions and special attention must be exercised to ensure these medications reach their intended recipients safely and securely, free from counterfeit or substandard alternatives that could jeopardize patients’ health and well-being.
Collaboration Against Counterfeits
The global COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated technology adoption not just for consumers, but also for criminals. Recognizing this shift and to combat the sale of counterfeit or illegally diverted medicines, PSI sought the assistance of their partners and its expertise in monitoring and analyzing intelligence. PSI has also assembled a task force fortified with notable entities, including the FBI, Homeland Security, MasterCard, and various partners, to combine expertise and formulate strategies and protocols to handle crime information online and offline effectively. The team focuses on tracing the sources through which illicit sellers procure their goods from, subsequently to disrupt their supplies and break the counterfeit supply chain.
“Over the years, we have identified that in order for us to be effective, we need to bring in partners and collaborate with other stakeholders. Their invaluable support enabled the organization to identify individuals and entities profiting from the illicit trade in medicines”, Ramesh said.
Resilience and Vigilance for Asia Pacific Distribution Networks
Many large illicit networks distributing counterfeit drugs were identified in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Surprisingly, these syndicates operate within legal supply chains and sell their products in pharmacies. This raises concerns about the integrity of the supply chain and how criminal syndicates can infiltrate regulated industries. Ramesh emphasized the need to be vigilant and ensure the integrity of the supply chain to prevent corruption.
TAPA standards play a pivotal role in cultivating resilience and vigilance within Asia Pacific distribution networks. As this region’s distribution landscape continues to expand, the intricacies and challenges of supply chain management become more pronounced. TAPA Standards offer a structured framework that enables businesses to fortify their operations against potential disruptions, such as theft and logistical bottlenecks. With TAPA’s programmes, companies operating in the region can enhance their risk assessment capabilities, implement robust security measures, and develop agile strategies that ensure uninterrupted distribution. This not only safeguards against financial losses but also fosters a heightened state of vigilance that enables businesses to proactively detect and mitigate threats, ultimately leading to more resilient and secure distribution networks.
About the Speaker
Mr. Ramesh Raj Regional Director – Asia Pacific, Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI)
Mr. Ramesh Raj is currently The Pharmaceutical Security Institute’s Regional Director (Asia Pacific) where he is working towards improving and strengthening relationships between governments and the pharmaceutical industry whilst carrying out capacity building and training for law enforcement agencies in the APAC region. Mr. Raj has served almost three decades of his career in the civil service, specializing in areas of Criminal Intelligence gathering (Police Intelligence department), Investigation into anti-counterfeiting, and other specialized crimes (Criminal Investigation Department), providing him an extensive counter-crime background.
Watch other SCRS Conference 2023 Keynotes and panel discussions here: Session Replays