Thoughts and News on High Visibility Packaging

Protecting Packaging against Counterfeiting

October 2013 – There is almost nothing that cannot be ordered online these days. While very practical for consumers on the one hand, this scenario is also a breeding ground for counterfeiters. The potential impact is especially dangerous when it comes to pharmaceuticals: Not only are serious companies suffering millions in sales losses –the wellbeing of trusting consumers is also at stake.

The industry is looking for a solution. Now packaging is being looked to as a way to distinguish correct from incorrect; real from fake. Statistics show that in Germany alone more than a third of the pharmaceuticals sold on the Internet are not from the listed manufacturer. For years now people have been working diligently to design a safety system that will effectively put an end to this. Meanwhile the year 2016 marks the light at the end of the tunnel: By then, every package should be guarded against misuse and be recognizable as genuine by way of a unique code number and a special folding mechanism. This will guarantee first opening recognition, as well as traceability of pharmaceuticals, which will also simplify potential recall programs.

Two-Dimensional Matrix Codes for Pharmaceuticals
More than two years ago a policy was implemented in the European member states, the enforcement of which would enable the recognition of counterfeited medications from the beginning, preventing them from landing in legal pharmaceutical distribution channels. With this system, professionals will be able to detect counterfeited medications with the aid of unique data matrix codes and special reading devices. Other safety mechanisms, such as raised logos or the unbroken seal of a package, support the consumer in distinguishing genuine from counterfeited products through touch or with the naked eye. Although the EU Commission foresees a far-reaching practical impact, there is a powerful movement to implement this demanding print system. A pilot project is currently running in Germany, the results of which are intended to convince doctors, pharmacists and patients of the practicality of so-called serialization. Until then, consumers are left with paying careful attention and trusting that seals and certificates are more than just an indication that the contents actually correspond with what the packaging says.