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How to ensure brand integrity in the fight against counterfeit drugs

on November 12, 2019 No comments

Finally, and despite the conference room table being strewn with Styrofoam coffee cups and half-eaten takeaway, each supply chain planner and quality control inspector breathes a collective sigh of relief as the following message blinks throughout the command centre:




The jovial mood does not last, however, as the reality of the greater global situation around supply chain controls in big pharma descends upon each member of the exercise team in turn, which is to say, an environment that is constantly being breached by diverters and counterfeit manufacturers alike.

This is not a new phenomenon, of course, with breaches in product integrity dating all the way back to the infamous ‘Tylenol Murders’ of the mid-1980s.

Each scandal provides insights into supply chain gaps and quality escapes, which ultimately lends itself to the creation and deployment of both new and innovative best practices such as improving packaging, implementing tamperproof seals, or adding security cameras in faraway manufacturing facilities.

Many are left wondering, however, But at what cost?

The Tylenol poisonings resulted not only in multiple deaths in and around the Chicago area, but years of brand loyalty disappearing into thin air (along with profit margins that took years to recover).

And with technology becoming increasingly more sophisticated and easily accessible by nefarious manufacturers and shippers alike, what are patients and big pharmaceuticals companies meant to do when protecting not only their health, but their brand integrity?

Simple:  Identify pain points, run proactive tests and exercises to predict criminal behaviour, and, of course, put in preventative measures.

What’s more, this is made still easier by using Hanhaa’s turnkey solution, ParceLive, to track and trace global, cold chain shipments so that loggies and quality inspectors can get back to day-to-day business with far fewer exercises toward ensuring brand protection.

Here’s how:

Painkillers and pain points: 

Hanhaa recognizes that some companies, especially those the size of Johnson & Johnson (owner of Tylenol) or Pfizer, might feel the need to deploy entire armies in the fight against counterfeit drugs.

Still, there is a good reason for running simulations and employing global quality inspectors as well as supply chain managers to monitor shipments both day and night.

Consider, for instance, that revenues from counterfeiting and diverting drugs accounts for around $200B, or 10 to 15 percent of the entire, global pharmaceutical market.

Add to that longer and longer cold chains and an order might be processed in Eastern Europe, phoned in as ‘confirmed’ by some in the Philippines, and then shipped, by common courier, to North America or Europe.

Thus, criminals, and company executives alike, have an incentive to keep the profit margins on their side of the (war room) table.

Hanhaa notes that these pain points, while real, can be controlled by implementing ParceLive both upstream and downstream in the cold chain, or transit that requires end-to-end temperature control through transit within the span of two to eight degrees.

Not only does their tracker ensure compliance in this regard (and from between -15 to 50 degrees), but can also alleviate unnecessary and time-consuming war games by providing simultaneous, or real-time, updates on location, humidity, shipment breaches, unanticipated shocks, falls, tilts, and more.

Right, and all the way from Manila to Minsk (and beyond).

Proactive measures:

Despite all of these countermeasures, Hanhaa also notes the need to get out, and stay out, ahead of counterfeiters and diverters who are increasingly moving away from shipping actual counterfeit products and, instead, sending illegitimate ingredients to manufacturing facilities in order to produce fakes in country.

For Hanhaa, though, the solution is, again, simple and requires manufacturers, labs, and shippers go further upstream by offering ParceLive’s data streams as a service for all to gain insight into demand forecasts versus actual deliveries.

Think about it:  when all parties to a cold chain have access to orders and bills of lading, both large and small manufacturers can see not only how much ‘extra’ product might have been introduced into the supply chain, but also where and to root cause the agent that needs to be brought to justice by way of Hanhaa’s irrefutable dispute resolution process.


Even with all these tools at a company’s disposal, Hanhaa understands that quality escapes can, and do, happen.

ParceLive, however, makes getting to the bottom of the issue easier and with the risk to brand integrity, intellectual property rights, and criminal claims, that much quicker (and less costly).

By dissociating the company from bad guys, er, bad actors, both upstream and downstream, firms like Johnson & Johnson as well as Pfizer can point to the integrity of their biological, or cold chain, supply lines as well as design better, stronger solutions when new threats appear on the horizon.

Lastly, and as a call-to-action, Hanhaa’s ParceLive is a means, unto itself, toward enabling and empowering companies when conducting their own, internal stress tests.

This is to say, ParceLive can be deployed as a way to test upstream providers as well as diverters and packaging plants downstream, to ensure compliance before brand integrity is truly (and publicly) called into question.

For example, trackers could be placed on large ‘dummy’ shipments out of India and monitored to see whether company inspectors catch and apprehend the pharmaceuticals being tampered with, or worse, at various border crossings as they transit to Europe.

Not only is being proactive top-of-mind for Hanhaa, but so is brand protection and ensuring that no company has to endure the pain of lost consumer trust, long legal battles, or, and worst case, the inability to help those truly in need by delivering reliable products at affordable prices.

Right, OVER AND OUT, supply chain soldier!

CallumHow to ensure brand integrity in the fight against counterfeit drugs