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The Criminal Mind

Mon, 08/02/2010 - 10:00am
by Mike Auerbach, Editor-In-Chief

I don’t think I have a criminal mind. Which is probably why I can’t seem to wrap my head around the idea of counterfeiting — at least how it’s being done in relation to pharmaceuticals.

Sure, I am quite familiar with other forms of counterfeiting; whether it’s a rip-off of a designer handbag made from the “hide” of the elusive “nauga” animal instead of real leather, or the genuine “faux” pearls I once saw advertised on late night television. These and other examples of product counterfeiting are designed to fool the unaware or just the exceedingly gullible into the thinking they are getting genuine merchandise for a fraction of its original cost. As the saying goes, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

People who purchase these obvious rip-offs probably get what they deserve: a handbag that eventually falls apart or pearl earrings that dissolve into a puddle of glue during the first rain shower.

But what about counterfeit pharmaceuticals? What happens to people when they take drugs with too much active ingredient, or one that has a different and potentially harmful active ingredient? They get hurt. No one who ever purchased a counterfeit handbag ever got hurt by their purchase.

And it is here that I get confused. If you are a manufacurer of counterfeit pharmaceuticals trying to dupe people into buying your product — why are you putting dangerous ingredients into the mix? Are you trying to kill you customers? Are you hoping that your “special mix” of ingredients will have at least some nominal therapeutic effect so your customers keep coming back?

Government, industry and vendors around the world are implementing strategies and technologies to thwart the rise in pharmaceutical counterfeiting. But, as we see in the illegal drug business, there is a lot of money to be made and all it takes is a criminal mind to take advantage.

What can be done to stem the tide of pharmaceutical counterfeiting? Send me your thoughts at Mike.Auerbach@advantagemedia.com.

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