Counterfeiting concerns rise, but cost concerns rule

The recent UPS supply chain survey, which found that 36 percent of pharmaceutical and biotech respondents say they are "highly concerned" about product tampering or counterfeiting--fourth place among choices provided--is likely due to the fact that the bulk of the problem still resides in under-developed countries, says Bill Hook, UPS VP for healthcare logistics global strategy. "It came in a little higher than I expected," he says.

The study also found that no big pharma companies are ready with everything in place to meet upcoming serialization requirements, as we reported last week. But the fact that one-third of respondents report the problem shows that it's going mainstream. "It's within the last year that companies are beginning to see incidents in developed countries. It's rising in importance," says Hook. 

One reason: the rising amount of trailer theft of pharmaceutical products, especially controlled substances. "We're spending a tremendous of time on it. Serialization will help," says Hook. With the mandates and standards efforts extended, manufacturers are finding it difficult to prioritize the task.

Unsurprisingly, the top supply chain concern reported by pharma and biotech respondents to the UPS survey is managing supply chain costs (56 percent say they are "highly concerned"); only 50 percent say they have been highly successful at managing costs.

- here's the UPS study (pdf)
- here's our previous coverage