The Costs of Security

We constantly hear the disturbing news about counterfeiting from FDA, the World Health Organization, and others—counterfeiting is a significant threat facing the U.S. drug supply chain. Our recent research confirms it. According to our 2005 Security Survey, 22% of our reader respondents have had products counterfeited.

These crimes top tampering by just a few percentage points—responses show that 18% of you have experienced product tampering. Still, most of you feel that tampering is still a bigger threat—only 52% of you believe counterfeiting protection is very important, while 70% of you hold tampering protection to be very important. I can understand why tampering is still considered the bigger threat. Counterfeiting hasn’t shaken public faith in the drug supply as the Tylenol poisonings did two decades ago.

Not yet, at least.

Our survey does show that many of you, however, are interested in technologies that can be used to thwart counterfeiters. These include RFID tags for item-level packages and bar coding lot or date codes. Others include holography and security printing. (For more details on our survey, please see our Security Packaging Supplement, beginning on page 46.)

Respondents identified the costs of materials and equipment as the most significant challenges to an anticounterfeiting program. Such concern is understandable. But programs are evolving that may help make security more affordable. Material suppliers and contract packagers are devising ways to incorporate security into packaging and labeling for seamless transitions to packaging lines.

For instance, Cardinal Health Packaging Services (Philadelphia) has established relationships with several suppliers of security technologies to offer standard features that can be customized, says Renard Jackson, executive vice president, sales and business development, packaging services. For instance, Cardinal Health had Kurz Transfer Products (Charlotte, NC) design a standard drug-themed TrustSeal optically variable device (OVD). Within the OVD, Cardinal can incorporate covert images of logos, codes, or text using nanotechnology or luminescent inks. “We’ve designed a TrustSeal for our customer base so they don’t have to pay for new artwork to be designed.”

Cardinal Health can then print the OVD onto cartons that it makes or onto labels converted by Acucote (Graham, NC). UV-light-excited fibers can be embedded into the paper made by Glatfelter Mill and supplied by Atlantic Paper. Machine-readable taggants from InkSure (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) can be applied. And thermochromic ink from International Security Products (Paso Robles, CA) can be printed on top of permanent ink. RFID and bar coding, too, can be added. “Many companies don’t have a brand security resource,” says Jackson. “We can help manage these features.” Jackson says that Cardinal Health is currently using TrustSeal with specialty papers and inks in a pilot program for a new drug. In separate pilots, Cardinal Health is studying 2-D bar codes and serialization for prescription drugs already on the market.

Such standard solutions with custom options may help you start or enhance your security program, especially if cost is an issue. Your investment may still be substantial. But it may end up saving you widespread recalls or litigation costs in the long run, should you ever count yourself among the one-fifth of our reader sample that has suffered counterfeiting.

Daphne Allen, Editor


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