Fighting counterfeit drugs: When the cost of a consumer’s life is as thin as a package

Fighting counterfeit drugs: When the cost of a consumer’s life is as thin as a package

drug testingCounterfeit drugs, jumped out of the skin, lurking increasingly in the market. Prices that are relatively cheaper than the original product shoot up the possibility of consumers consuming counterfeit drugs.

Packaging is one of the primary markers used, besides price, to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit medicines. Unfortunately, it becomes harder to differentiate due to more sophisticated printing techniques.

According to the data, 1 in 10 medical products in developing countries are counterfeit. This makes it a serious global health problem

Even though it is globally known as a health problem, counterfeit products and the distribution of drugs are delicate to stop. One main reason is the gap between the demand and supply of medicines.

This gap is a niche that offers billions of dollars in profits for all those who play in it, including the organized mafia that runs the counterfeit drug business.

For example, the World Health Organization (WHO), in its latest report highlighting the consequences of the intense counterfeit drug trade in lower-middle-income countries, lists why the circulation of counterfeit drugs is difficult to stop. This business continuity was triggered by the scarcity of pharmaceutical products, import dependency, and the involvement of various clandestine and official networks so the scarcity of medicines in these areas increased the market potential for the counterfeit drug mafia to market their products freely.

Indicators for counterfeit drugs

The term “counterfeit drugs” has several meanings. From the standpoint of the manufacturer, counterfeit medicines are a class of pharmaceutical made by unlicensed parties, hence their efficacy cannot be accounted for.

According to the official website of the World Health Organization (WHO), counterfeit medicine is categorized into several substandard medical products. Counterfeit drugs can contain the correct active ingredients at the wrong dosage, contain the wrong active ingredients, or even contain no active ingredients at all. Some counterfeit medicines only contain flour or sugar.

With these criteria, counterfeit drugs have the potential to harm consumers. The scheme that can arise is that the drug has no effect so that the patient’s disease gets worse and or the ingredients in the drug have side effects. It is also possible that the ingredients in the drug are contradictory to other compounds, causing fatal effects on health.

Counterfeiting in Indonesia

There are a number of methods that those who distribute fake drugs frequently employ in the Indonesian environment, such as applying fake Drug and Food Control Agency(POM Agency) stickers to drug packaging, selling drugs through unregistered online stores, or distributing outdated or even unused medications. has no distribution license, as well as a pharmacy that sells Viagra and is typically found on the side of the road.

Similar practices were discovered in Semarang, Central Java, where a shady factory created fake medications by repackaging generic medicines as brand-name ones. This procedure, which involves repackaging outdated medications, aims to increase the selling price. According to the findings of an investigation conducted by the POM Agency and the Criminal Investigation Agency of the Indonesian National Police, the offenders disseminated prescription drugs that had been repackaged to pharmacies in the Greater Jakarta region.

In addition to misleading customers, this method of operation also jeopardizes the general welfare. Nevertheless, there are a few hints to establish the groundwork for:

  • Most of the time, the packaging is of poor quality; this can be seen when comparing it to the packaging of earlier medicines, especially those that are used regularly;
  • The appearance of the packaging is different, such as using an old design while the original product packaging design has been updated;
  • The printed number/information on the packaging is not clear
  • Different/unknown manufacturer name
  • There is no distribution permit number on the packaging

Together against counterfeit drugs

Counterfeit medicine production and distribution pose a severe risk to both the economy and public health. As a result, thwarting these fake drugs requires cooperation between pharmaceutical businesses and connected parties. Integrity Asia is among the top suppliers of anti-counterfeiting services, providing detection, investigation, and mitigation services to assist pharmaceutical businesses and authorities in the fight against counterfeits.

The detection services offered by Integrity Asia include trademark investigation, non-use investigation, anti-counterfeiting, dan parallel trading investigation. Integrity Asia also uses OSINT and HUMINT. These two procedures were used to gather the data required to locate the producers and distributors of counterfeits.



Image by Freepik

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