Substandard, counterfeit medical devices increased nearly 47% from 2020-2021 during pandemic: report

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Criminals saw the crisis as an opportunity to sell more such products and took advantage of the vulnerability of those in need, says ASPA President

Criminals saw the crisis as an opportunity to sell more such products and took advantage of the vulnerability of those in need, says ASPA President

During the COVID-19 pandemic, substandard and counterfeit (SF) medical device incidents increased by almost 47% from 2020 to 2021. Trade in counterfeit medicines increased sharply during this period, mostly related to COVID-19 products including vaccines, medicines and testing kits, antibiotics, face masks and disinfectants. This is according to the latest report published by the Authentication Solution Providers’ Association (ASPA), an organization that campaigns against counterfeit medical products.

During the COVID-19 peak, SF medical incidents were observed in 23 of 29 states and seven union territories. The report pointed out that SF products affect every product sector and counterfeit cases increased from January 2018 to December 2020 with a growth of 20%. Globally, incidents of SF products in pharmaceuticals have also increased by 111% over the past 10 years, experts say.

“Criminals saw the COVID-19 pandemic crisis as an opportunity to sell more substandard and counterfeit medical devices, exploiting the vulnerability of those in need,” said ASPA President Nakul Pasricha.

“Adverse effects went unnoticed”

The huge negative impact of the huge increase in the circulation of counterfeit medicines and medical supplies in the fight against the pandemic had gone almost unnoticed. “It is unfortunate that criminals produce ineffective or harmful products in packaging that appears identical to genuine products, making them difficult to identify. The dissemination and use of these SF medical devices violates the right to health and slows the pace of providing the quality health services people deserve. It is high time for decisive action to contain this threat. If preventive measures are taken now, we will be better able to provide effective healthcare to patients,” he said.

ASPA has investigated the major counterfeiting incident detected during the COVID-19 period and its impact on the country and published a report titled Substandard and Counterfeit Medical Products, Learnings from the COVID-19 Pandemic and Technological Aids to Ensuring drug and patient safety”. .

authentication ecosystem

The report highlighted the trends in drug-related crime and incidents involving SF medical devices and made recommendations to combat them. “We welcome the Indian government’s decision to make QR codes on Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) mandatory; However, we propose a comprehensive approach to building an authentication ecosystem in the country,” it said.

National authentication projects have been trending internationally for a number of years, with China, Brazil, Turkey, the US and the EU leading the way in this area. It had helped them reduce the shadow market in various industries, improve tax collection, and greatly reduce the losses suffered by businesses from counterfeit products and illegal trade.

ASPA Secretary Chander S. Jeena said, “India should implement these measures in other sectors as well to move up into the league of advanced digital economies.” The report was through monitoring and compiling news from leading media outlets across the country, the medical alert by the World Health Organization (WHO), etc., he added.

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