Counterfeit Medicine in Australia & Online Brand Protection for Pharmacies
The sale of counterfeit goods online is a growing problem for Australian brands. These goods are often of poor quality and can damage a brand’s reputation and lead to financial losses. In addition, the sale of counterfeit goods can also result in legal action against the brand.
Fake medicine is a serious problem in Australia and around the world. Fake or counterfeit medicine refers to any product that is marketed as a genuine medicine but is actually a fake or lower-quality version of the genuine product. This can include fake prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and complementary and alternative medicine products.
Counterfeit drugs can pose a serious threat to public health, as they may not contain the correct ingredients or may contain harmful contaminants. In addition, counterfeit drugs may not be subject to the same safety and efficacy standards as genuine drugs, which can put patients at risk.
Australian Border Force Operations
In 2022, the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) led an international operation to tackle counterfeit and illegal medicines purchased over the internet. They seized a total of $11 million worth of illicit and counterfeit therapeutic goods globally.
Inspection of packages revealed that nearly half contained illicit or counterfeit medicine and products, including anabolic steroids, antibiotics, COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, cosmetic injectables, erectile dysfunction medicine, herbal and sports supplements, ivermectin, nicotine vaping products, painkillers, and sedatives.
In addition, over 4,000 websites and web links that advertised and sold these products were shut down or removed, and numerous organized crime groups were impacted. In Australia, the TGA collaborated with enforcement agencies to examine consignments of therapeutic products detected by the Australian Border Force entering the country, resulting in the seizure of over 860,000 units of unlawfully imported products, with an estimated value of over $2 million. Of these seized products, approximately 7% were found to be counterfeit. This intervention effectively prevented dangerous medicine from entering the community.
Protecting Australia’s Pharmaceutical Supply Chain
To protect against counterfeit drugs infiltrating the pharmacy supply chain, it is important for pharmacies and other stakeholders to implement strong supply chain security measures and to carefully verify the authenticity and quality of the products they receive. This can involve working with trusted suppliers, implementing effective tracking and traceability systems, and conducting regular audits and inspections. By taking these steps, pharmacies can help to ensure that they are providing patients with safe and effective medications.
Online Brand Protection for Pharmacies
Online monitoring and enforcement tools can be useful for pharmacies and other stakeholders to monitor for fake drugs and protect against counterfeiting. These tools can help pharmacies to identify and take action against fake drugs that may be sold online or through other channels.
Some examples of online monitoring and brand protection tools that pharmacies can use include:
- Website monitoring: website monitoring can help pharmacies to track the use of their brand and intellectual property on websites, pages and subdomains. This can help pharmacies to identify and take action against unauthorised use of their brand, such as the sale of fake drugs through fake websites..
- Domain name monitoring: Domain name monitoring tools can help pharmacies to track the registration of domain names that are similar to their brand name or trademark. This can help pharmacies to identify and take action against the use of similar domain names for the sale of fake drugs.
- Online market monitoring: Online market monitoring tools can help pharmacies to track the sale of their products on online marketplaces. This can help pharmacies to identify and take action against the sale of fake drugs through these channels.
- Product authentication: Product authentication tools, such as unique serial numbers or holograms, can be used to help consumers verify the authenticity of drugs. This can help to reduce the risk of fake drugs being sold to consumers.
By using online monitoring and brand protection tools, pharmacies can effectively monitor for fake drugs and take action to protect against counterfeiting. It is important for pharmacies to stay up to date on the latest tools and best practices for online brand protection and to seek advice from legal and brand protection professionals as needed.
Vigilance and Awareness
There are several other measures that pharmacies can take to monitor for fake drugs and ensure that they are providing patients with safe and effective medications. Some of the steps that pharmacies can take to monitor for fake drugs include:
- Verifying the authenticity of drugs: Pharmacies can verify the authenticity of drugs by checking the packaging and labeling, as well as by using authentication technologies, such as holograms or unique serial numbers.
- Using trusted suppliers: Pharmacies can work with trusted suppliers who have established track records of supplying safe and effective medications. This can help to reduce the risk of fake drugs entering the pharmacy supply chain.
- Implementing traceability systems: Traceability systems, such as barcodes or RFID tags, can be used to track the movement of drugs through the supply chain. This can help pharmacies to identify any potential supply chain vulnerabilities and take steps to address them.
- Conducting regular audits and inspections: Regular audits and inspections can help pharmacies to identify any potential issues or concerns with the quality or authenticity of their drugs.
- Educating staff: Pharmacies can also educate their staff about the risks of fake drugs and how to identify and report potential issues. This can help to ensure that all staff are aware of the importance of verifying the authenticity and quality of the drugs they dispense.
It is important for pharmacies to stay up to date on the latest tools and best practices for online brand protection and to seek advice from legal and brand protection professionals as needed. By taking these steps, pharmacies can effectively protect their supply chain from counterfeits and ensure that they are providing patients with safe and effective medications.
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