In recent years, a disturbing trend has emerged in the pharmaceutical industry, where patented drugs are increasingly becoming the target of substandard and falsified counterparts. This phenomenon poses a grave threat to global public health, as it undermines the efficacy and safety of vital medications. Understanding the reasons behind this trend is crucial for devising effective strategies to combat the proliferation of substandard and falsified drugs in the market.

Economic Incentives and Profit Motives:

One significant factor driving the rise in substandard and falsified drugs targeting patented pharmaceuticals is the substantial economic gain associated with the pharmaceutical industry. Patented drugs often come with a high price tag, making them lucrative targets for counterfeiters seeking quick profits. Criminal organizations recognize the potential for significant financial gain by producing and selling fake versions of expensive medications.
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the economic incentives for counterfeiting pharmaceuticals are fueled by the vast and growing global market for counterfeit drugs, which is estimated to be worth billions of dollars annually. The link between high-priced patented drugs and the economic motives behind counterfeiting is a concerning trend that demands attention from regulatory bodies and law enforcement.

Globalization and Complex Supply Chains:

  • Challenges in the pharmaceutical supply chain, due to its growing complexity and globalization, have made it difficult to monitor and regulate, allowing substandard and falsified drugs to enter the supply chain at various points, from manufacturing to distribution. A compromised supply chain allows counterfeiters to exploit vulnerabilities and introduce fraudulent products into the market.
    The Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI) emphasizes the need for enhanced global collaboration and regulatory frameworks to address the complexities of the pharmaceutical supply chain. Strengthening international cooperation can help in tracking and intercepting counterfeit drugs before they reach consumers.

Technological Advancements in Counterfeiting:

  • The advancement of technology has provided counterfeiters with sophisticated tools to replicate patented drugs convincingly. High-quality printing, packaging, and even the ability to mimic unique identifiers, such as holograms and barcodes, contribute to the difficulty in distinguishing between genuine and counterfeit medications. This technological arms race requires constant vigilance and innovation from pharmaceutical companies and regulatory authorities.
    The European Medicines Agency (EMA) acknowledges the impact of technology on counterfeiting and advocates for the adoption of cutting-edge technologies to secure the pharmaceutical supply chain. Implementing innovative solutions, such as blockchain and tamper-evident packaging, can help create a more resilient defense against counterfeit drugs.

Weak Regulatory Oversight and Enforcement:

  1. In some regions, weak regulatory oversight and enforcement mechanisms create an environment conducive to the proliferation of substandard and falsified drugs. Inadequate regulatory frameworks and insufficient resources hinder the ability of authorities to detect and combat counterfeit pharmaceuticals effectively.
    The Lancet Global Health Commission on High-Quality Health Systems underscores the importance of strengthening regulatory systems to ensure the quality and safety of medications. Robust regulatory frameworks, combined with effective enforcement, are essential components in the fight against counterfeit drugs.

The ARTiFACTS Verify platform offers an integrated approach to identifying substandard and falsified drugs that have entered the pharmaceutical supply chain:

  • Identification of suspect medicines through on-site testing at any point in the supply chain using paper analytical device technology that is cost-effective and requires minimal training.
  • Confirmation of the properties of medicines failing the initial test through further testing at specialist labs, using advanced scientifically recognized techniques, including high-performance liquid chromatography, mass spectroscopy, among others.
  • Organisation of all data captured for managing workflows, analysing and reporting results.
  • Coverage of over half of WHO’s 600 Essential Medicines.

Enhanced data security by recording results on a purpose-built blockchain provides an immutable record of test results, including active pharmaceutical ingredients, product origin, manufacturer and other data essential for effective intervention.


The increasing targeting of patented drugs by substandard and falsified counterparts poses a serious threat to public health globally. Economic incentives, globalization, technological advancements, and weak regulatory oversight all contribute to the rise of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Addressing this complex issue requires collaborative efforts from governments, pharmaceutical companies, regulatory bodies, and international organizations.

By implementing comprehensive strategies that focus on improving the integrity of the pharmaceutical supply chain, adopting advanced technologies for authentication, and strengthening regulatory frameworks, stakeholders can work together to protect patients and ensure access to safe and effective medications. It is imperative to remain vigilant in the face of evolving challenges to safeguard the integrity of the pharmaceutical industry and uphold the trust of patients worldwide.

Categories: Health

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].