Pharmaceutical drug manufacturers worldwide are facing a dilemma. According to the World Health Organization, the global trade in counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs is estimated to be worth over $32 billion.
Developing countries are disproportionately affected by the trade in counterfeit drugs, where approximately 30 percent of medications sold are fake, according to a February 2012 article in USA Today.
The developed world is not immune to this problem either. Of the 1,700 incidents of counterfeiting reported in 2011, 102 were in the United States, and the 102 reported U.S. incidents represent only a minute fraction of actual counterfeits in the U.S. supply chain.
And while that number may seem low, counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs can have dangerous physical side-effects, including death, and almost always result in the loss of consumer confidence.
That’s why many pharmaceutical brands are looking for cost-effective packaging solutions that meet diverse requirements and can be adapted to their special needs. They specifically want secure packaging solutions that enhance brand identity and protect their drugs from counterfeiting.
Staying One Step Ahead of the CounterfeitersAs a global supplier in over 100 countries, one pharmaceutical company, a trusted brand especially well known in Asia, enjoys strong brand recognition and awareness across its markets.
Even though this pharmaceutical company’s products were not significantly affected by this waning trust from consumers due to counterfeiting, the company wanted to reinforce brand confidence by securing its supply chain on all of its packaging.
The company uses multiple packaging substrates to hold the drugs it manufactures, and wanted a solution that would engage consumers and convince them that the product is authentic. Compatibility with additional security elements that the brand owner could later authenticate in the field was another requirement.
Additionally, these solutions would need to be implemented consistently across all manufacturing and printing operations, using more than 15 converters, multiple substrates, and across five manufacturing locations.
In order to achieve these goals, the company turned to Sun Chemical, a global ink manufacturer with an integrated brand protection business. Sun Chemical’s expertise in packaging, printing and security, and its diverse product portfolio and presence across the world, made it a good fit for this multi-national brand.
Sun Chemical helped the company with strategy formulation, contingency planning, chain of custody framework and other components to ensure the integrity of its supply chains. To meet the needs of this specific customer, Sun Chemical recommended an infrared coding solution called Verigard, a security system that adds a small quantity of taggants (or chemical markers) to inks, varnishes or coatings for use in any print process on any substrate.
How It WorksVerigard taggants have no impact on print performance or color properties because they are added in extremely low concentrations. This system is useful because packaging can be authenticated immediately by using Sun Chemical’s proprietary V400 reader. Sun Chemical also offers inline verifiers to ensure that 100 percent of what comes off the printing press or filling line will be readable in the field.
The Verigard lock and key system provides a high level of security by ensuring the taggant, reader, ink and substrate are tuned in a manner that allows unique and definitive verification in a wide range of packaging options. This system was implemented in a spot color ink that met brand guidelines and maintained consistent color across multiple packaging designs.
In addition to the Verigard system, Sun Chemical also utilized Hidden Indicia in the pharma company’s packaging.
Developed by Sun Chemical’s partner, Graphic Security Systems Corp., Hidden Indicia uses proprietary software to encode covert images into original art. These images are revealed either optically by using a credit card-sized plastic lens, or digitally using a smart phone or scanner equipped with decoding software.
One of the advantages of Hidden Indicia is customized messaging, where multiple images can be hidden as words, logos or pictures. Implementation is simple as no special inks or print techniques are required. Hidden Indicia is also very secure when encoded at high resolution or in a clear varnish or coating.
Overt and semi-overt security elements are easy to recognize, but are inherently less secure than the covert options like Verigard and Hidden Indicia. However, they can be decent barriers to low level counterfeiters, and frequently very interesting to view.
There are a variety of overt and semi-overt options that can be used including: color shifting inks that change color with view angle, metachromic inks that change color based on the light source, and thermochromic inks which change color based on temperature.
By incorporating security measures on its packaging, this pharma company was able to rest assured that their supply chain would not be compromised.
Just by taking the initiative to implement the Verigard and Hidden Indicia brand protection technologies, the pharma company immediately deterred potential counterfeiters, and opened new potential communication/marketing channels with customers via Hidden Indicia’s customized messaging and smartphone decoding.
Most importantly, the company strengthened brand loyalty by allowing customers to prove to themselves the authenticity of the products they are purchasing.