Patient safety is our highest priority which is why we have a dedicated team tackling counterfeit medicine across the globe.
The teams use technologies including Mass Spectrometry (pictured), Raman Spectrometry and Infrared Spectrometry to detect counterfeit drugs
For Pfizer, counterfeit medicines are a matter of patient health and safety. They are difficult to distinguish from the genuine medicine and can be extremely dangerous, not only because of the way in which they are manufactured but also because of the ingredients used.
Counterfeit medicines are unlicensed and so they are not regulated or inspected as genuine medicines are. These products are also often made in unhygienic sites and without the rigorous testing and quality standards which regulated medicines must adhere to. One of the biggest concerns is that you may not be getting the therapeutic benefit you expect from the medicine because the counterfeit duplicate contains no active ingredient or an insufficient amount of the active ingredient. Alternatively, the counterfeit medicine may prove harmful because it contains too much active ingredient or dangerous contaminants such as boric acid, heavy metals or floor polish.
Pfizer has always been at the forefront in the fight against counterfeits and the criminals behind them. To help detect, disrupt and deter illegal counterfeit medicines trade we have built strong working relationships with law enforcement agencies as well as regulatory and health authorities.
In addition to our lab in Groton, US, our site in Sandwich, Kent, is home to Pfizer's Global Anti-Counterfeit Laboratory, responsible for testing suspected counterfeit medicines that have been intercepted around the world. Neville Broad PhD manages both laboratories, within Scientific and Laboratory Services of Pfizer Global Security. The teams use technologies including Mass Spectrometry, Raman Spectrometry and Infrared Spectrometry to detect counterfeit drugs as well as help identify the manufacturers and distributors of these illegal products. Our forensic scientists provide expert analysis of suspected counterfeit Pfizer medicines and work with our global security team to deliver reports that can aid prosecution.
In addition to counterfeit drug testing, globally we are exploring and implementing new technologies, such as special packaging printing security, and ingredient identification techniques that make counterfeits both more difficult to make and easier to spot. We also put many controls in place to ensure our supply chain is monitored and protected when Pfizer medicines are delivered from manufacturing sites to registered pharmacies and other healthcare organisations such as hospitals.
What are counterfeit medicines? What are the risks? How big is the problem?