The global anticounterfeit packaging market is expected to reach $82 billion by 2015. Outsmarting the counterfeit pharmaceutical trade, especially in, but not limited to, developing nations, is a major challenge facing the pharmaceutical industry. These four companies take several different approaches from mobile technology to biotechnology to help consumers steer clear of fake drugs.
PharmaSecurefocuses on the counterfeit drug trade in India. Its packaging for medication includes an imprinted code to indicate it is legitimate. Consumers text the code and receive a message verifying it’s good or confirming that the medication is counterfeit. It recently passed a milestone of packaging 300 million codes. It has added additional services through partnerships to its mobile health platform launched in July. One is withappointment-booking service DocSuggest and one offering in-home physician visits — Portea Medical Group. When the user sends a text message for the verification code, if it comes back as “not valid” the company gets in touch with the user. After getting the details, the company will contact the manufacturer if it appears to be a case of counterfeiting to investigate further. On the other hand, if the code is verified, the user can get health services such as refill reminders, speak with a health adviser, book a doctor’s appointment or have an in-home doctor’s visit. The company has offices in New Hampshire and New Delhi.
CertiRx Corp. The Research Triangle Park, North Carolina startup embeds a little tag within the medicine using inactive ingredients. The tag provides identification and authentication to combat pharma fraudsters. The tagsare like a security signature that can also be placed on the surface of the product or within liquid or tablet medication. The tags includedata about the medication such as its batch number andcan beviewed through a reader. Earlier this year, the company, which isled by former Johnson & Johnsonexecutive Tom Mercolino, raisedmore than $300,000.
Sproxil is a U.S.-Nigerian company that has helped the Nigerian government with its crackdown on counterfeiters, particularly those with counterfeit anti-malaria and TB medication. Counterfeiters’ bogus drugs kill an average of 700,000 malaria and TB patients every year. The company,led by Ashifi Gogo, has U.S. offices in Boston.Its technology involves uncovering a code on its packaging that can be seen once the surface has been scratched off. Users send the number in a text message to determine whether a particular medicine is counterfeit orauthentic.
Infra Trac’s spectroscopy technology embeds near-infrared spectral fingerprints into the drug formulation. It claims its technique is fast and nondestructive, and flexible enough so that pharmaceutical companies can use their existing formulation as a tag.The idea is any substance that doesn’t match a company’s tagis easy to spot. The Silver Spring, Maryland venture-backed company’s technology is also used for hospitals, electronics, luxury goods, chemicals and auto parts.