Counterfeits fight heats up worldwide

Governments in both developed and developing nations are jumping on the anti-counterfeiting bandwagon. Large-scale implementations in Africa are being joined by more modestly sized but technically savvy implementations elsewhere in the world.

Cell phones, database technology and security coding combine to provide consumer-level drug authentication in parts of Africa rife with counterfeit malaria drugs. Another anti-counterfeiting system involves radio-frequency identification technology; manufacturers affix RFID tags to drug packaging and users scan the tags with a pen reader, which provides red-light/green-light verification.

Technologists are developing packaging and coding techniques that aim to stay a step ahead of increasingly savvy counterfeiters. Among them: chromatography and spectroscopy for analyzing dosage forms, as well as overt, covert and forensic markings for authentication and tracing. Combinations will provide the greatest protection; cost, of course, remains a factor.

Special Report: Top Counterfeit Drugs Report