Making patient safety a priority is more than just following regulations. Scams must be identified, consumers must be informed, and product protection and supply chain management techniques must be updated and improved.
Even with all the regulatory and compliance requirements the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) places on the creation and distribution of drugs, there are still thought to be hundreds of thousands of people killed each year by counterfeit drugs.
For those in the pharmaceutical industry, true patient protection and safety means going beyond these government requirements to implement strategies that protect against scams, educate the public, and improve product protection.
Being aware of pharmaceutical scams
More patients are buying medications online or over the phone today than ever before, and this has led to an increase in pharmaceutical scams and fraud. For example, in 2018 a scammer sent fake letters from the FDA that accused consumers of drug violations and issued fake warnings in an international extortion scam. Other types of scams frequently include:
- Manufacture and sale of fraudulent or unapproved drugs
- Marketing of fake medications
- False claims made to public programs in the U.S.
- Improperly manufactured compound drugs (created in mass quantities)
- Manufacturing drugs without a license
Sometimes scammers will send fake letters from government agencies demanding payment from consumers. These are easy to spot because the FDA or DEA would never send warnings this way or demand money from individuals, but other types of fraud are more sinister and difficult to detect.
Legitimate pharmaceutical companies should educate consumers about these scams and announce any time a new instance of fraud has been detected. They should post on their websites and offer knowledge-base resources about fraud and why it’s so harmful to both the industry and consumers themselves. Tips to share with consumers to avoid falling prey to pharmaceutical scams include:
- Ensuring an online retailer is licensed
- Getting prescriptions only from licensed drugstores
- Checking that the website has an address and phone number in your country.
- Checking that a website is accredited by the NABP with a “.pharmacy” domain or a VIPPS, EU or other relevant logo for authorized pharmacies in your country.
- Paying attention to whether anything seems odd about the product packaging or the drug itself
Another sign of a scam is if the pharmacy doesn’t require a prescription to sell you a drug. Pharmaceutical companies should educate consumers about these issues so patient safety risks are reduced and both the brand’s value and its products are protected.
Product protection for pharma brands
Another way that the pharma industry can help protect patients is through product protection strategies. Counterfeit drugs are a huge problem that poses significant health risks to patients. Product authentication is a crucial component of enhancing patient safety for any pharmaceutical company.
Strategies to implement in this area include protecting proprietary knowledge and intellectual property, taking away the ability to copy a product completely, updating product tracking and transport measures, and using labels that cannot be counterfeited. Both brands and consumers should also have the power to authenticate drugs.
Supply chain management
Product security is another big factor so that the overall supply chain is not corrupted. Products must be raced at every step in the production process, from manufacture all the way through distribution. Teams at each point in the supply chain must be in constant communication. These are important aspects of product security, both for intellectual property protection and to combat counterfeit drugs.
Supply chain management is thus a crucial consideration for ensuring patient safety in this complex and sometimes dangerous industry.
U-NICA’s product protection solution enhances patient safety
A comprehensive combination of brand value and product protection steps will limit counterfeiters’ ability to introduce fraudulent products into the market. U-NICA’s solution, the scryptoTRACE® suite, helps companies combine their online protection techniques with physical product protection. The tool has an integrated smartphone app that allows both brands and consumers to instantly verify and authenticate products, and the process engages users to increase patient safety.
scryptoTRACE® reduces the number of counterfeits out there, ultimately reducing risks to the supply chain and to consumers in need of legitimate medications.
To create a more secure pharma industry, companies must continuously take steps to enhance patient safety beyond just following the necessary regulatory and compliance requirements. This involves being aware of scams, educating consumers, implementing effective product protection, and improving supply chain management.
To learn more about how the product protection solution from U-NICA can help you address these challenges, get in touch with the team today.