The coronavirus pandemic, the biggest public health crisis in recent times, continues to haunt Indians, especially as we remember the plight of critically ill patients and unfortunate deaths in the months of April and May. An acute shortage of drugs to treat symptoms of Covid-19 led to increased circulation of counterfeit medicines in recent times. There were even reports of fake antiviral medicines and spurious injectable immuno suppressant in the market, jeopardising the lives of patients, and even leading to fatalities. Interpol’s Operation Pangea reported a rise in fake medical products related to the pandemic, with 4.4 million units valued at $14 million seized in 2020 alone.
With rising demand for vaccines, there is concern that fake vaccines could find their way into circulation. Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation sounded an alarm over criminal exploitation of an unmet global demand for Covid-19 vaccines. Already, counterfeit vaccines have been detected in countries such as Mexico and Poland.
In order to overcome this, Honeywell has introduced digital authentication technology for pharmaceutical products in a bid to fight rising counterfeit crime in India. “Honeywell is deploying its authentication technology for the pharmaceutical industry in response to the growing menace of counterfeit products,” said Hitesh Mehta, general manager, Advanced Materials, Honeywell India. “Our sophisticated authentication technologies feature printing and substrates which can be easily identified but are difficult to alter and duplicate. Our technology offers brand protection for manufacturers and assurance of authentic products for end users.”
The solution comprises a digital code that is embedded in the packaging of pharmaceutical products. The end user can validate the authenticity of the product by scanning the digital code with the help of a smartphone. The software that validates the product’s authenticity through a database is accessible through a Honeywell app available for download for iOS and Android users and gathers market intelligence.