After fake HPV vaccines were discovered in Hong Kong last year the medical world was put on alert – no drug or vaccine is safe from counterfeiters in 2020, and now, more than ever, brands need to protect their life-saving medicines.
In July last year more than 200 boxes of counterfeit HPV vaccines in Hong Kong were found to contain sodium and chloride – the liquid ampoules were filled with just a simple saline solution. While no hazardous substances were found in the fake vaccines, the boxes seized by authorities from two medical centres in the city state still posed a significant risk to the public – many women who thought they were protected from HPV, and a heightened risk of cervical cancer, were not. And if harmful substances were found the consequences could have been much worse.
Surprisingly, the Hong Kong doctor who sold the fake vaccines was given a very light sentence of four months jail time and a fine of US$2,500. But the company who makes the Gardisal 9 vaccine, Merck & Co, will have a global trust and reputation issue for years to come. It was reported that there were only very subtle differences in the packaging that alerted authorities that the vaccines were fake, and it’s likely there are many more out there.
2020 is the year of fakes
From fake news to fake masks, 2020 has been a difficult year when it comes to securing public trust. Even before the global pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that 15 per cent of all drugs worldwide were fake, and in some countries in Asia and Africa that number could be as high as 50 per cent .
But, there is no doubt that COVID-19 has fuelled a surge in fake medicines around the world as people look for prevention measures and treatments, and the US$1 trillion pharmaceutical industry is being targeted by more counterfeiters than ever before. Fake chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug reported by some health authorities and politicians to effectively treat COVID-19, has been found in large batches in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon, and some experts are calling counterfeit drugs this year’s ‘parallel pandemic’.
When most people think of counterfeit medicines they think of pills, but ampoules – small sealed glass capsules containing a liquid ready for injecting – are increasingly being filled with fake drugs. Just like the HPV vaccine, whatever vaccine is going to protect the world from COVID-19 is likely to come in an ampoule. So finding effective brand protection solutions for ampoules now is integral to our future global health and security.
Luckily, YPB already has this technology readily available. Our YPB Tracer™ is an invisible powder created using our patented chemical process that can be combined with other products, such as the ink used in labelling ampoules. Virtually indestructible and invisible to the human eye, this brand protection solution can literally be merged with your product so it is one and the same, and its authenticity can be immediately verified using a YPB T2 Scanner.
The YPB T2 Scanner is a portable, light and rugged device for detecting the presence of YPB’s Tracer technologies. It provides immediate confirmation of authenticity from point-of-manufacture through the logistics chain and all the way to the doctor’s office. Visual and audible feedback confirm a successful scan, and can provide accurate records of your product’s movements around the world. Every single ampoule, every vaccine, can be confirmed as authentic anywhere around the world in a matter of seconds.
2020 will be remembered for many things, but don’t let it be remembered as the year fake versions of your brand’s medicines flooded the market. Contact us today to discover a tailored solution for your needs.