Europe fights back against counterfeit medication October 18th, 2018

Europe fights back against counterfeit medication

Counterfeit medication has become a major problem that can lead to people taking medicine that does not contain the correct ingredients or, even worse, toxic substances.

The instances of falsified medicines in Europe are increasing at a dramatic rate. In fact, medication represents the second largest category of falsified items imported into Europe today. 

But this trend is not limited to Europe. Counterfeit medicines represent an enormous public health challenge globally.

In industrialised nations like the United States, Canada, most EU countries, Australia, New Zealand and Japan where median income is higher, the pharmaceutical supply chain is better protected. Stronger customs, import and regulatory controls, and law enforcement are more aggressive. The outcome is that the occurrence of counterfeiting is statistically reduced to 1% or less. 

Almost 14,000 websites hosted by illegal online pharmacies were identified and shut down and more than 530,000 packages were inspected by customs and regulatory authorities worldwide.

But the issue persists, and in Europe in particular, risk to public health and safety has steadily increased. Therefore, the European Commission's Directorate for Public Health and Risk Assessment issued a directive preventing entry of falsified medicinal products into the legal supply chain. 

The European Stakeholder Model (ESM), a cloud-based point-of-dispensing verification system, was created to implement 2D data matrix bar codes for authentication of medication, ensuring that patients receive a genuine product. The codes include a randomised serial number, product number, batch number and expiration date.

Scanning of these codes allows pharmacists to identify counterfeit medicine, as well as genuine material that is recalled, expired or should not be dispensed for some other reason. The European Medicines Verification Organisation (EMVO), a non-profit organisation, oversees the system and manages the European Hub, linking national systems throughout the Europe Union. 

These new processes bring new challenges for pharmacies and hospitals that will need to be able to read the 2D codes placed on packages to ensure their legitimacy.

To help solve these issues, BlueStar offers a wide range of scanners and mobile computers that can help end users to join to the fight against counterfeit medication.

For example, BlueStar offers a pocket-sized form factor Datalogic RIDA Bluetooth scanner to be used in connection with mobile devices, mainly tablets. The healthcare version is equipped with disinfectant ready and antimicrobial enclosures which make the RIDA DBT6400 imager ideal for bedside point-of-care applications. The compact size and light weight form factor of this mobile imager offers freedom of movement while scanning, with the added benefit of preventing cross-contamination in the hospital.

Also available from BlueStar are the Datalogic Memor X3, Lynx PDA and the Gryphon imager. The Memor X3 and Gryphon imager are available in a special healthcare version with disinfectant-ready enclosures treated with anti-bacterial additives that help reduce the transmission of infection.


Samantha is BlueStar's Digital Media Specialist, and the primary contributing writer for VartechNation. Previously, she has worked as a Public Relations Associate and a Social Media Manager.