In our previous article we looked at the impact of counterfeit drugs affecting the pharmaceutical industry during the pandemic. We’re going to explore this a little deeper in this article and see how organized crime is impacting Covid-19 vaccines. 

We have been made aware during this global crisis that the industry is seeing a wide spread of and vast amounts of counterfeit medicines flooding the market. The easily available, faulty drugs can prove to be life threatening as they contain questionable, improper ingredients or no active ingredients which may risk the life of the patient. 

According to the global alert issued by INTERPOL to the law enforcement in its 194 member countries, organized crime networks are focusing on Covid-19 vaccines online and offline. Although there are now vaccines being administered in the UK and millions are awaiting it across the globe, approvals and global distribution are still being worked upon to ensure secure supply chains and prevent fake products online. The coordination between health regulatory bodies and law enforcements will be essential to safeguard communities against such threats. 

“As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains.” Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General

The vulnerability caused by the virus is leading to more chances for predators and criminals to commit crimes under the guise of protection from Covid-19. In fact, according to the INTERPOL Orange Notice, some of the crimes show instances of advertising, selling and administering fake vaccines. The Orange Notice highlights all current and potential criminal activities in relation to the Covid-19 and flu vaccines. These include falsification, illegal advertising and theft.

Future concerns also include relaxing of virus testing especially when it comes to international travel. This could lead to more production and distribution of dangerous testing kits that aren’t authorized by any regulatory body. INTERPOL is also warning the public to be vigilant, skeptical and to take precautions when seeking medical equipment and medicines online. INTERPOL’s Cybercrime Unit analysis revealed that 1,700 out of 3,000 websites associated with online pharmacies are suspected of selling illicit medicines and medical devices. Those 1,700 websites include cyber threats, especially phishing and spamming malware. There are numerous online scams being run online and it’s best to always check the World Health Organization Covid-19 health advice or with the national health authorities to prevent becoming victim to dangerous and life-threatening products. 

The Pharmaceutical Industry can fight these counterfeit goods by ensuring compliance measures for serialization and traceability processes are in place. Products will need to have unique identifiers (such as unique serial numbers) and businesses must adhere to rules set by regulatory bodies. This way the industry will be able to adopt serialization for their pharmaceutical products. This will also allow businesses to quickly identify the challenges / blockages in the supply chain, prevent chances for further scams and ensure safety for patients.

Businesses can lessen chances of crimes around medicines and products by enforcing serialization across their organization. With each product within the business having unique information, it allows easy identification and tracking per unit within the supply chain in case of verification, recall and disposition information.

CosmoTrace is a leading consulting organization with a focus on product serialization. We create effective serialization processes for clients that reach beyond meeting compliance requirements. CosmoTrace can help your business find solutions that include building compliance serialization strategy, vendor selection, master data governance, implementation, integration, Project management, Technical consulting, testing & validation and operational support.