While counterfeit products can be found in every country and every sector of the global economy, the situation in the global pharmaceutical supply chain is particularly concerning.
Preventing the counterfeiting of sensitive and vulnerable products is a big business globally and one in which packaging plays a crucial role on the front lines in thwarting crime that causes economic damage and risks the health--and potentially the lives--of consumers.
How big? Unfortunately, it is a large and growing market: It is forecast to reach $128.6 billion by 2019, according to the Anti-Counterfeiting Packaging Market from MarketsandMarkets. The report notes that these brand protection techniques are used to curtail the use of counterfeit products in the food and pharmaceutical markets, among numerous other sectors.
It is also a market that hits close to home for those in the United States: The report identifies North America as the largest market in 2014 supporting anti-counterfeit, anti-tampering and authentication technologies followed by Europe. The fastest growing market for anti-counterfeit technologies is Asia-Pacific where there is increasing awareness about counterfeit products penetrating the region.
Anti-counterfeiting techniques used in packaging can range from the simple to the more elaborate, as these articles indicate:
- The wide-spread use of the ubiquitous smartphone can be tapped to serve as a consumer-usable method for authenticating individual products in conjunction with quick-response (QR) codes and other tactics (see 3 smartphone-enabled brand protection technologies);
- ADNAS on its own and in partnerships with packaging suppliers is leveraging the use of DNA for package authentication that cannot be duplicated (see DNA technology makes a mark in brand protection);
- Another method that simultaneously enhances the visual appearance of packaging is a new decoration technique that uses digitally printed packaging to economically apply foil to paper and paperboard packaging and labels--even for short runs. It can also be used to personalize or customize packages, as well as can be used for serialization for track-and-trace and/or anti-counterfeiting applications (see Economical foil decoration now commercialized for digital printing);
- The potential damage to the reputation of a brand if a consumer is harmed by the contents of even a cheap fake wine or a battery in a smartphone (these are real examples) is explained by a director with the Active & Intelligent Packaging Assn. (see How brand owners can benefit from smart packaging).
You may also be interested in these recent articles on Track-and-Trace: GS1 weighs in on current track-and-trace developments and What you need to know about prescription traceability.