Big Counterfeit Bust Shifts Focus onto Consumers


(DGIwire) — As anyone who has followed medical news over the last year knows, counterfeit medications have become serious business. This situation has been described as a global pandemic by The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, which noted in May 2015 that 127 of a total of 196 countries had no reliable supply chain counterfeit incident reporting systems. That same article quoted a 2000 World Health Organization report that found that almost one-third of identified counterfeit drugs contained no active ingredient; and more than 20 percent either had incorrect quantities of active ingredients or contained the wrong ingredients.

A massive bust has further confirmed those fears and added to the narrative of counterfeit medications that is now beginning to more closely resemble the Mexican drug wars than a benign issue. On May 28, 2015, according to Peru This Week, Peruvian National Police (PNP) conducted a raid in a small town called San Martin de Porres. What they found in a so-called safe house exceeded anyone’s wildest imagination: they discovered 10 tons of fake medicines and the laboratory used to create them. They also found fake labels and bottles that mirrored those found on drugstore shelves. Much of the medication was for children—for example, children’s cough syrup—which makes the crime even more heinous. General Carlos Tuse Lloclla, the PNP director who organized the raid, told news outlet Peru This Week that there is no difference between those who kill with a gun and counterfeiters who kill with fake medicines.

Crime scene investigators said that the organization is very sophisticated, and is able to produce a bottle of children’s cough syrup in under a minute, Peru This Week further reported. They were apparently making hundreds of millions of dollars across the globe, with labels found in multiple languages.

Thousands of miles away, Stony Brook, NY-based Applied DNA Sciences is committed to fighting counterfeit prescriptions. “We understand that this is a global problem,” says Dr. James A. Hayward, president and CEO of the company. “A bust in Peru could affect store shelves in America. We cannot look at this problem in a traditional way: we must be vigilant coming up with solutions that are as creative as the counterfeiters we are fighting against.”

The company’s SigNature® DNA markers—derived from plant DNA—are designed to protect against counterfeit products in the supply chain, including counterfeit medications. Applied DNA Sciences specializes in using unique DNA marking on product labels to enable easy scanning at all points of manufacture and distribution. Using a proprietary process, Applied DNA ensures that each product label is composed of uncopyable botanical DNA sequences beyond the capabilities of counterfeiters.

And that’s a prescription to foil the plans of any counterfeiter.