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EFPIA anti-counterfeit pilot successful

The EFPIA's product verification system pilot project, carried out at the end of 2009 in Sweden, has demonstrated robust and effective results

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) has announced that its product verification system pilot project, carried out in collaboration with Apoteket AB, at the end of 2009 in Sweden, has demonstrated robust and effective results.

Using similar principles to a barcode to individually number each pack of medicine, the system provides pharmacists with an almost instantaneous verification of whether that pack has been previously dispensed. The data matrix, which is smaller than a fingernail, contains information such as product code, batch number, expiry date and a unique, randomised serial number that identifies each pack individually. If there is a risk that the pack is counterfeit, the dispensing pharmacist will be alerted immediately.

The pilot involved the scanning and verification at the time of dispensing of almost 100,000 packets of pharmaceutical products in 25 pharmacies across Stockholm. The study concluded that the model works in practice and allows for effective identification of fake packs as well as expired or short dated packs and recalled products.

However, the study also found that the presence of more than one barcode on packaging can cause confusion for the user and may jeopardise user acceptance.

David Brennan, CEO of AstraZeneca and EFPIA Board champion for the project said: "Counterfeit medicines pose a threat to patient safety, so we want to be sure that the patient receives genuine medicine every time.

"This pilot has demonstrated that the proposed EFPIA model could offer a proportionate and cost-effective means to improve the security of medicines."

The product verification system is part of EFPIA's response to the European Commission's proposal for a mass serialisation of medicinal products to better protect EU citizens from the serious threats posed by counterfeit medicines.

In March, PMLiVE reported on the BBC Fake Medicines programme which covered the problems of counterfeit medicines reaching the NHS supply chain.

15th April 2010

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