Headline July 24, 2015/ ''' BEWARE : FAKE DRUGS - POISON PILLS '''


[IN PAKISTAN], and India -just as in the whole of the developing world, thousands of people die every year, year after year, on account of taking counterfeit drugs.

DRUG smugglers can expect harsh penalties, nearly everywhere -if the drugs in question are heroin or cocaine. Those who smuggle counterfeit medicines, by contrast, have often faced lax enforcement and light punishment.

Some governments, like Pakistan, deem drug-counterfeiting a trivial offence, little more than a common irritant. The World Students Society will stay acutely aware of this growing problem.

COUNTERFEIT DRUGS CAN KILL. Many are shoddily made, containing the wrong dose of the active ingredient.

Taking them instead of the real thing can turn a treatable disease into a fatal one. It can also foster drug resistance amongst germs. This has been a big problem for a long time in developing countries.

Studies of anti-infective treatments in Africa and South-East Asia have found that perhaps 15 - 30% are fakes. The UN estimates that roughly half of the anti-malarial drugs sold in Africa -worth some $438m a year are counterfeits.

Roger Bates of the American Enterprise Institute, a think-tank in Washington,DC, says his field work has convinced him that counterfeits kill at least 100,000 people a year, mostly in the poor world.

Now it appears that Fakes are taking off in the rich world too. Yes, Viagra still tops the list of of knock-offs seen by Pfizer, says John Clark, the American drug firm's global head of security-

But fake versions of at least 20 of its products including Lipitor, a blockbuster cholesterol drug, have been detected in the legitimate supply chains of at least 44 countries.

Mr Clark's intelligence comes from Pfizer's global network of informants, consumer tip-offs and instore inspections. He sees worrying trends.

Counterfeiters used to operate chiefly in developing countries, says Mr Clark, but now his firm sees fake coming from such rich and well-regulated places as Canada and Britain.

And the crooks are growing more technologically sophisticated: some can even counterfeit the holograms on packets that are meant to reassure customers that pills are genuine.

A consumer study funded by Pfizer recently found that nearly a fifth of Europeans polled in 14 countries had obtained medicine through illicit channels. That, the firm reckons, makes for a grey market in the EU of over E10 billion.

Terry Hisey of Deloitte, a consultancy thinks the global market for fakes could be worth between E75 billion and $200 billion a year. Those staggering sums, he argues, helps explain the emergence of a flurry of new technologies and companies hoping to help the drug industry ''secure its global supply chain''.

Recently, Oracle, an American software giant, unveiled Pedigree, a programme that helps drug firms ''track and trace'' pills all the way from the factory to your fingers. IBM has a rival offering, as well as one using radio frequency identification [RFID] chips-

Which are embedded in packaging to detect tampering and allow precise tracking. 3M, a materials company, and Abbott Laboratories, an American medical firm, are also rolling out an RFID based products. A division of Johnson&Johnson, a drugs giant, has developed Web-based software to help custom officials quickly verify whether drugs are fake or real.

Poor countries find it hard to take advantage of such technologies. Sophisticated radio tags and databases software are not much use in places where street hawkers peddle fakes with impunity. Still, even in such difficult circumstances, a combination of political will and business ingenuity can make a difference.

A Ghanaian start-up firm, mPedigree, embosses a special code onto packages, which customers find by scratching off a coating. By sending a free text with that code, they can find out instantly if the package is genuine or a fake.

The government of Nigeria, where fakery is rife, recently declared its intentions to adopt such a text-based validation system.

Thomas Kubic of the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, an industry funded outfit, gives warning that this war will be hard to win. After more than 30 years as an investigator, he is sure that crooks will eventually find a way around any defence.

Even so, he thinks novel approaches such as mobile-based validation may "harden the target", just as a burglar alarm makes your home somewhat trickier to rob.

If the cost and complexity of faking drugs goes up, crooks may choose to fake Gucci handbags instead. This would still be theft, not to mention a crime against fashion. But it will not kill anyone.

With respectful dedication to the Law Enforcement Agencies of the world. See Ya all on !WOW! -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' The Future '''

Good Night and God bless!
SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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