Is drug counterfeiting the perfect crime?

With low legal risks and low barrier to entry, counterfeiters are becoming more sophisticated.

When it comes to counterfeit drugs, federal authorities and companies are doing every thing they can to make it more difficult for counterfeiters to copy their products.

The problem?

Counterfeiters are getting more sophisticated.

Michael Dalton, Advisor, Global Product Protection, Eli Lilly & Company, explained that counterfeiters are, among other things, increasing quality of printing materials, are using valid batch numbers, and reusing authentic packaging.

"They are making it harder to distinguish," he said. "Counterfeiters are always adapting to make their product look like what we produce."

This also includes, in some cases, acquiring sophisticated machinery that can produce a better counterfeit drug.

Dalton's comments came during a panel presentation on the subject at the Parenteral Drug Association's annual meeting.

Drug makers are using features like holograms, special inks, printing, unique film, and more to make it more difficult, but it's still tough.

"There is no such thing as a safe counterfeit," he said.

Which is why enforcement of such illegal practices is important.

Robert West, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Investigative Operations Division, Office of Criminal Investigations, FDA, shed some light on the matter during the panel.

"Is drug counterfeiting a perfect crime?" he asked.

It involves high margins, low barriers to entry, and low legal risks, he explained adding that it is also difficult to detect.

There are a number of ways counterfeiters get into the business including drug diversions, buy-back schemes and cargo thefts, to name a few.

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