Pharmaceutical companies are different from other types of businesses. While you have a duty to shareholders to maximize profits, you have a higher duty to protect patients. One of the biggest threats to patient health is also one of the biggest dangers for the pharmaceutical industry business model: counterfeit drugs.
You need to have an action plan for protecting patients from fake drugs. Your customers are especially vulnerable to phony medicines.
Supply and Demand
The black market for counterfeit pharmaceuticals operates under the same economic principles as any other market. It obeys the laws of supply and demand.
If you want to successfully protect patients from fake drugs, you need to attack both the supply and the demand for these products.
It’s easy to understand how it makes sense to go after counterfeit rings. But these rings only exist because people are willing to buy fake drugs. If you can shrink demand enough, you will put counterfeit rings out of business.
Educate Consumers About Health Risks
Patients buy fake drugs because they think they need them. They are not trying to harm themselves. Most have no idea that they are buying counterfeit drugs.
You need to make sure that consumers understand that fake medicines often do not have the same ingredients in the same quantities. They need to know that every time they ingest a counterfeit pharmaceutical, they are risking their life.
Many consumers are just trying to save money; they don’t yet understand they are playing Russian roulette.
Educate Consumers of Links Between Counterfeit Drugs and Organized Crime
Consumers do not understand how the pharmaceutical industry works. When a patient goes online and sees their medication listed for 50% less on a shady online pharmacy, they don’t recognize that buying that drug is aiding a criminal enterprise.
Most think they are just comparison shopping. Once consumers understand what counterfeit medications are, and that buying them is helping organized crime, they will be much less likely to see out fake drugs.
Increase Packaging Security
The closest analogy for the issues of counterfeit medications isn’t fake consumer products. It’s counterfeit currency. Counterfeit currency works to undermine the entire economic system.
Fake medications undermine the entire healthcare system.
Companies can protect patients from the dangers of phone medicines by investing in more secure packaging, similar to the way countries regularly update the security features of currency to foil counterfeiters.
Standard control methods like bard codes, RFID tags, and holographic images are a good start. However, more innovation is needed to make it harder to pass off fake drugs as authentic medications.
Increase Cost of Doing Business Online for Counterfeiters
Counterfeit operations often run on tight margins. Anything you can do to increase the cost of manufacturing and selling fake drugs helps protect patients.
Securing supply lines and limiting access to proprietary branding and packaging information makes it harder for criminals to create and sell fake drugs.
Target Secondary Businesses
Counterfeit medications aren’t usually sold directly to patients for a handful of cash like narcotics in the movies.
Instead, counterfeiters use unwitting legitimate businesses to help peddle their dangerous products.
While it is almost impossible to target the ones behind counterfeit medications, you can often target the businesses that are supporting them. Using IP litigation, and enlisting the help of law enforcement can help get rogue online pharmacies shut down by putting web hosting companies any payment processors that they are helping a criminal organization selling fake medicines.
Work with Regulators of Secondary Businesses
While pharmaceutical companies are accustomed to working with regulators, you need to branch out and with government agencies that oversee the secondary businesses that counterfeiters rely on to advertise and distribute their products as well as the payment processors that allow them to profit.
The more pressure you can put on the counterfeit supply chain and financial network, the fewer patients will be at risk of taking dangerous fake drugs.