Counterfeit medical products are becoming an international epidemic. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 8% of the medical devices in circulation are counterfeit. The offending products may be assembled from inferior-quality components, or worse yet, from fake parts that could contain toxic materials. In either case the dangers are the same. Counterfeit medical devices pose a significant liability to the manufacturers and a health risk to both the patients and healthcare providers that could result in injury, permanent disability, or even death.
In response to the growing threat of counterfeit medical products, WHO created the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT) to raise awareness, mobilize nations, and draft international legislation. Over the past few years, the Food and Drug Administration has reported numerous counterfeit medical products in the US like unsterile surgical bandages, faulty glucose test strips and fake pharmaceuticals. In 2009, US Customs seized over $30 million in counterfeit medical products, including pharmaceuticals, personal care products, electronic components and power systems.
While domestic and international organizations are doing their best to fight the counterfeiting threat, there are many reasons for medical device manufacturers to become more proactive in protecting their brands. “The potential health risks to consumers aren’t the only dangers,” explains Steve Delepine, VP of business development for BrandWatch Technologies. “The effects of legal liabilities, negative branding and revenue loss can ultimately bankrupt a company.”
The medical industry presents unique challenges to brand security. Medical device manufacturers need a security partner capable of implementing protection strategies with qualifying cGMPs (current Good Manufacturing Practices) that won’t slow or disrupt established production flows. Delepine emphasizes, “BrandWatch is an organization familiar with pulling together varying resources to monitor the product’s entire lifecycle – from contract manufacturers, to healthcare administrators, all the way to the customer.”
In addition to quality and experience, in-depth knowledge of counterfeiting techniques is essential. “Too many companies spend a lot of money on a security solution which will be duplicated or obsolete in six months,” Delepine warns. “A brand protection plan that doesn’t include an evolving design is no plan at all. Counterfeiters just move too fast.” BrandWatch’s unique technologies offer security solutions which are predesigned to change and adapt without having to be customized or recreated every time, keeping one step ahead of the counterfeiters, and ultimately saving time and money along with the brand.