The coronavirus, COVID-19 has not only impacted businesses across the world but also our consumption habits. There are reports of many places unable to access critical products and how there’s a struggle to control illegal activities such as stockpiling, counterfeiting, and black-marketeering as well as using product serialisation in extraordinary situations.
As the emphasis on hygiene and sanitation continues to be practiced rapidly and aggressively, the number of medical, drugs, cleaning and hygiene products have increased; making access to such products difficult. Producers of these products are unable to meet the increasing demand due to bottleneck (raw materials, packaging, etc). Accessibility of such products in the market has decreased and counterfeiting and black-marketeering activities has thus increased.
The way to combat this is to have all the products that may be subject to illegal activity, to be serialised and traceable within the market.
Manufacturers need to ensure product serialisation for every single product as this prevents illegal activities. This can be done directly or on the wrappage. Serialisation will help prevent bottleneck for production when properly designed with production dynamics. Each serial number must be registered in an electronic data system which will only allow sale of a product to the consumer after the system sends an approval.
States will need to reform their laws and regulations when it comes to traceability. The manufacturer is obliged to transfer the serial numbers of the products to the system prepared by the legislator. The legislator in turn, has to guarantee the accuracy and security of the data transferred to him/her.
The pharmaceutical industry has been combating black-marketeering and counterfeiting for years. It is estimated that pharma tracking systems (many still in their infancy in some countries), will be more important and functional after the current pandemic. It’s why setting up an authorization system is required at all points where the consumer purchases the product. The system keeps track of associating the consumer with the products purchased so the product can be removed from the sales channel and the product can also be tested for whether it is counterfeit or not.
Countries should prioritize the serialization of products and the establishment of traceability systems to ensure the management of the supply chain to minimise the devastating effects in the case of such a pandemic. Even though these circumstances are exceptional, this is the only way supply chains can be guaranteed to operate healthfully.