Even ‘Safe Zones’ Such as Hospitals Can Fall Victim to Fake Drugs

front view of doctor writing record on folder while holding medicine in office

(DGIwire) — The prevalence of counterfeit prescription drugs has been making headlines, with outlets such as The New York Times and The Huffington Post publishing a plethora of stories on the subject. In February 2014, the Times reported that Indian manufacturers were exporting fake pharmaceuticals. That same month, the Los Angeles Times ran a piece with the headline “Fake Drugs, Real Threat.” Fake medicines have disastrous effects: Medical Daily reports that between 100,000 and one million people die from fake prescriptions every year. According to these reports, the problem is most acute in developing countries and among those unable to gain access to medicine through mainstream channels.

However, a study released in April 2015 and reported in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene suggests that even some of these mainstream channels—such as hospitals and pharmacies—are no longer the safe havens they once were. The report aimed to address a global pandemic of falsified medicines and focused on legitimate supply chains. During the period studied—2009 to 2011—the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, which collected the data analyzed in the new report, identified 1,510 total counterfeit incidence reports.

Thankfully there are those who are committed to addressing the issue of counterfeit drugs with innovative tracking and security technologies. For example, consider Applied DNA Sciences. The company’s SigNature® DNA markers—derived from plant DNA—are designed to protect against counterfeit products in the supply chain, including counterfeit medications. Based in Stony Brook, NY, 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 unrepeatable botanical DNA sequences beyond the capabilities of counterfeiters.

SigNature® DNA puts an indestructible tag made from plant DNA on the medication label,” explains Dr. James A. Hayward, president and CEO of Applied DNA Sciences.

“It gives suppliers and buyers another layer of safety to make sure the product they are receiving is legitimate.”

With so many supply chains being sullied by fake drugs, SigNature® DNA may well prove useful in the fight against the counterfeit drug trade.