Cracking Down on the Counterfeiters and Securing the Pharma Supply Chain

Cold Chain IQ

Operating a secure supply chain is a key concern for pharmaceutical companies, primarily to guarantee the safety of drugs being made available to consumers and also for simple financial reasons.

Threats to the supply chain include product theft, product diversion, intentional adulteration and counterfeit goods.

According to Brian Johnson, senior director of supply chain security at Pfizer, the biggest security risk in this area of the pharmaceuticals industry is simply the complexity of the product supply process.

He told Cold Chain IQ that companies often procure materials from one region, manufacture in a separate location and package their products at yet another site, before selling globally.

However, Mr Johnson also stressed that the sector and its regulators are improving their ability to deal with threats and introducing protective measures such as supply chain security programmes.

Commenting on the best ways to improve supply chain visibility, the Johnson stressed that companies should always be aware of some basic concepts and goals.

"Understanding your supply chain and ensuring that you've got good processes to engage all of your supply chain stakeholders - whether that is a material supplier, a contract manufacturer, or logistics service provider - our companies need to have good processes to pick these suppliers," he said.

Counterfeiting in the pharmaceuticals industry has negative knock-on effects for various groups, from consumers whose health may be put at risk to legitimate manufacturers suffering patent and copyright infringement.

The US government has also taken action to crack down on counterfeiters, with President Obama recently signing a bill into law to fight the theft of prescription painkillers from points in the supply chain.

Senator Chuck Schumer said the plan will "help keep drug thieves off the streets and law enforcement better equipped to combat prescription drug theft".

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