BY VINOD JYOTHIKUMAR, PHD
Anti-counterfeiting Technology and Pharma Packaging
Intangible assets constitute a considerable share of many companies’ equity. They are often the result of extensive investments in research and development,
careful brand management, and a consistent pledge to
high quality and exclusiveness. Counterfeiting of goods
is becoming a huge problem for our society. It not only
has a global economic impact, but it also poses a serious
threat to our global safety and health. Currently, global
economic damage across all industries due to the counterfeiting of goods is estimated at billions of dollars annually. Especially product counterfeiting, the unauthorized
manufacturing of articles which mimic certain characteristics of genuine goods and which may thus pass off as
products of licit companies, have developed into threats
to consumers and brand owners alike.
Packaging is defined as the collection of different
components, which surround the pharmaceutical product
from the time of production until its use. Packaging pharmaceutical products is a broad, encompassing, and multifaceted task. Packaging is responsible for providing lifesaving drugs, medical devices, medical treatments, and
new products like medical nutritionals (nutraceuticals) in
every imaginable dosage form to deliver every type of
supplement, poultice, liquid, solid, powder, suspension,
or drop to people the world over. It is transparent to the
end user when done well and is open to criticism from all
quarters when done poorly.
Categories of Pharmaceutical Packaging Materials
• Primary packaging system is the material that first
envelops the product and holds it.
• Secondary packaging system is outside the primary
packaging and used to group primary packages
together (cartons, boxes, shipping containers etc.).
• Tertiary packaging system is used for bulk handling
and shipping (barrel, container, edge protectors, etc.).
The current numbers of anti-counterfeiting solutions
are many and new options are introduced in the market
with some variations. An attempt is made to explain the
technologies for easy understanding on product packaging. Packaging includes overt and covert technologies like
barcodes, holograms, sealing tapes, and radio frequency
identification devices to preserve the integrity of the pharmaceutical product. But to date, all the available techniques
are synthetic and although provide considerable protection
against counterfeiting, have certain limitations which can
be overcome by the application of natural approaches and
utilization of the principles of nanotechnology.
OVERT VS. COVERT FEATURES
Overt features are intended to enable end users to
verify the authenticity of a pack. Such features will
normally be prominently visible, and difficult or expensive to reproduce. They also require utmost security in supply, handling and disposal procedures to
avoid unauthorized diversion. They are designed to be
applied in such a way that they cannot be reused or
removed without being defaced or causing damage to
the pack. For this reason, an overt device might be
incorporated within a tamper evident feature for added
security. Some packages are inherently tamper proof,
like a tin can hermetically sealed.
The rationale of a covert feature is to aid the brand owner to recognize a counterfeited product. The general public
will not be aware of its presence nor have the resources
to confirm it. A covert feature should be difficult to sense
or copy without specialist knowledge. Covert features include microscopic particles of specific colors and labels
printed with color combinations. The highly appreciated