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Pharmaceutical Industry- Technological Advancements and Emerging Trends

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Nakul Pasricha

Nakul Pasricha
Vice-President, Authentication Solution Providers’
Association and COO, PharmaSecure

Every brand owner requires authentication technologies for different needs, says Nakul Pasricha, Vice-President, Authentication Solution Providers’ Association and COO, PharmaSecure

Counterfeiting is increasingly becoming a global phenomenon and the pharmaceutical industry is not spared from the clutches of this peril. It has become a major issue and an increasing focus of attention by various organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and various Government authorities across the globe. In fact, the European Parliament has made the battle against falsified medicines one of its top goals.

Governments across continents are formulating and implementing stricter laws to counter this menace. As the old adage, prevention is better than cure, holds true even today, the pharmaceutical companies and the brand owners need to educate themselves on the latest advanced authentication technologies and solutions. The advanced technologies and solutions should be put in practice in order to empower the consumers to identify an original medicine from a fake one.

Every brand owner requires authentication technologies for different needs. It is his sole responsibility to identify the amount of risk and then shortlist the correct technologies to alleviate it. At various instances, a single technology may not be useful. So, the Authentication Solution Provider may suggest using more than one technology to counter the threat.

Advancement in anti-counterfeiting technologies: Advancement in nanotechnology has enhanced the security of various authentication technologies. We are developing and adding nanostructured components like gratings and fluorescent nanopatterns to make holograms impossible to reproduce, making counterfeit goods easier to recognise.

Advancement in digital (serialisation) authentication technologies: With close to one billion mobile subscribers in India, but only about 30 percent of them using smartphones, it is important to have a solution that is easily accessible for consumers across the country, in both rural and urban areas. Serialisation is one such solution. Using this solution, unique alphanumeric or numeric codes are generated and applied via direct printing or labels on to medicine packages, with a consumer being able to SMS this code to a gateway and verify its authenticity. As each code on each package is never repeated and almost impossible to guess randomly, this becomes a low-cost, scalable effective solution to deter counterfeiting. In addition, this solution can also be used to connect with patients with chronic illnesses and help them better understand and manage their ailments. PharmaSecure has been providing this solution in India for several years already, having protected more than 1.2 billion packages, or one for every Indian citizen.

Integration of anti-counterfeiting technologies: Schreiner, another German company, has devised a new Pharma-Comb label that aggregates overt features, such as holograms, color-shifting security inks, guilloche patterns with more covert elements, including certain voiding effects, and LaserSecure – a sophisticated method incorporating special pigments that only become visible via a dedicated hand-held reading device. The combination can be customised to specific manufacturer requirements, resulting in personalised authenticity protection for pharmaceuticals. The Pharma-Comb label has another builtin security feature: detachable label parts. When detached from the substrate, the message “peel-off part has been removed” becomes visible on the bottom label. Other security features embedded in the detachable label part make authentication checks possible even after the label has been appended to a patient’s medical records.

Solutions such as security holograms can complement other technologies like serialisation and track and trace, delivering a powerful combined offering for brand protection. Such integration enables brand owners to select the right mix of various technologies to keep the counterfeiters at bay.

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