The 'oldest profession' still follows the money

Packaging technologies serve as part of the 'tool kit' to identify pharmaceutical counterfeits.

Will it ever be possible to completely eradicate counterfeits from the pharmaceutical supply chain? asks Pharmaceutical Technology Europe in a question-and-answer interview with Doug Kahn, chairman and CEO at Ahura Scientific.

No, responds Kahn, telling PTE, “In fact, it has been said that counterfeiting is 'the oldest profession,' with examples dating back to the beginning of commerce. As long as there is money to be made, there will be counterfeiting.”

Ahura Scientific, a Wilmington, MA-based maker of hand-held optical systems for chemical identification, markets TruScan, a hand-held Raman spectrometer, designed to help identify and eliminate counterfeit or substandard products. It does so by creating a unique spectrum or chemical “fingerprint” of the authentic material. Any slight deviation from the original formulation, says Ahura's Web site, will lead to a detectable change in the measured spectrum.

Identifying counterfeits at the dosage form of the medication to confirm its chemical composition shows promise, says Ahura's site, adding, “Efforts to combat counterfeit pharmaceuticals to date have largely focused on making the product packaging difficult to copy. However, in many places, drugs are not sold in their original packaging, and counterfeiters have become very adept at imitating even the most sophisticated packaging.”

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