Tablets & Capsules


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b a c k p a g e Counterfeiters: Turn in or turn away? Consumer product counterfeit- ing is a serious, worldwide problem. Everyday products, such as cloth- ing, jewelr y, cosmetics, and even cigarettes can be suspect. If it's a successful brand, you can bet it will eventually be counterfeited. In most cases, buyers are unaware that they are purchasing a counterfeit and will generally become dissatisfied with the product's performance. Some buyers find the discounted price of a counterfeit so enticing they forget the general rule that you get what you pay for. A counterfeit wrist- watch, for example, will most likely soon stop keeping accurate time or quit working altogether. At the ver y least, counterfeits have an adverse effect on a brand's integrity, reputation, and revenue, but the consequences can also be more serious. Often, counterfeits are produced in unsanitar y and rogue environments, with the prof- its used to support criminal or even terrorist activity. Counterfeiting is a huge prob- lem in the pharmaceutical industry, where a fake product can not only c au se d issat isf ac t ion r elated to perfor mance but may also cause injury and, in extreme cases, death. W he n we p u r cha s e a pha r ma- ceutical product, we have a high expectation that it is safe, but with counterfeits, this isn't always the case. Our sense of security is weak- ened each time a new counterfeit drug product is discovered. A counterfeit tablet may appear to be identical to the name-brand t ablet, even to an exper ienced eye, but unless the counterfeiter obtained privileged and confiden- tial data about the product's details, there will always be a difference. It is not uncommon for counterfeit- ers to contact a tooling company and pose as a contract manufacturer doing business with the brand or as a new affiliate connected to the brand. Tooling companies and other pharmaceutical vendors need to be aware that counterfeiters are active and will do whatever it takes to rep- licate a branded product. Knowing your customers, their products, and where and how your equipment will be used is of utmost importance. If a new client, or even a current client, seems suspicious, it is the vendor's responsibility to properly vet the company and /or individual before proceeding. So, what should you look for? Most counterfeiters will not know or understand common industr y terminology, which can be a sign. While the proper format of typical documents, such as business cards, purchase requisitions, and purchase orders, are easy to falsify, company logos and let terheads that have been "cut and pasted " will often lack clarity or will be positioned incorrectly on the document. Miss- ing or incorrect contact information is a sure indication that something isn't right. Requests for an expe- dited order can also be a sign, as counterfeiters do not like to stay in one place for very long. Vendors should train customer service and sales staff to identif y these signs and provide clear guid- ance on what to do if they see them. If an order or individual is suspi- cious, the vendor has three options: 1) accept the order as is and do nothing; 2) decline the order and turn the suspect away; or 3) con- tact the brand owner and turn in the suspect to local authorities. Option 1 is totally unacceptable and should never be considered. Option 2, unfortunately, is what vendors most commonly do, as it is simple and avoids the legal matters asso- ciated with turning in the suspect to authorities. But a suspect that is turned away may find an alternate source and still produce the coun- terfeit. Option 3 may not be the easiest or safest option for vendors, but it is the only way to remove the counterfeiter from the street and reduce counterfeiting. As pharmaceutical industry sup- pliers, our responsibilit y reaches much f ur ther than protecting a brand. Preventing counterfeiting protects the health and well-being of our families, friends, and society at large. With collaborative effort we can reduce the number of counter- feiting events, but only if we make the right choice when faced with the option to turn in or turn away. T&C Dale Natoli is presi- dent of Natoli Engi- n e e r in g (636 926 890 0, www.natoli. com). He has more than 4 0 ye ar s of experience in the tablet compression indus- try; has authored numerous technical arti- cles and textbook chapters; and presents regularly for universities, associations, and tablet manufacturers worldwide. Mr. Natoli has also conducted training courses with the US Drug Enforcement Agency to help its agents understand how to identify counterfeit tablets.

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