Updated on 25 November 2014
Mr Alex Maxwell, vice president, Life Sciences and Healthcare APMEA, DHL Supply Chain
Singapore: According to an Interpol statement, in 2009, 20 million pills, bottles, and sachets of counterfeit and illegal medicines were seized in a five-month operation coordinated across China and Southeast Asian countries. In March 2013, Philippines arrested five traffickers attempting to traffic slimming pills, pain relief medication, and antibiotics and confiscated 20 pallets of fake medicines.
While watchdogs have been finding it challenging to trace the network of counterfeit trade and make a stop to the business affecting people's health, countries and global agencies like Interpol are working together to curb the floatation of fake drugs.
Logistic companies play a major role in the safe and secured delivery of pharmaceutical products to countries across the globe and an effective collaborated effort between logistics solution providers, drug manufacturers, and regulatory bodies can be instrumental in bringing down the supply of counterfeit drugs in the market.
DHL, a global logistics company, acknowledges that while it is difficult to estimate the loss of revenue for pharmaceutical companies, counterfeit or falsified drugs can damage public trust, resulting in a decrease in investment in the pharmaceutical industry. In an interview with BioSpectrum Asia, Mr Alex Maxwell, VP of Life Sciences and Healthcare APMEA, DHL Supply Chain, talks about the serious threat that counterfeit medicine imposes on pharmaceutical industry and general healthcare and the initiatives DHL is taking to ensure safe delivery of drugs through technology and stakeholders' partnership.
What role can supply chain management play in controlling the prevalence of counterfeit drugs?
Counterfeit market is a serious threat to the healthcare industry. Supply chain management is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring safe delivery of healthcare products and DHL has implemented various technologies to track the shipment.
Besides technologies and solutions at the service level, logistics companies can partner with global bodies to manage these threats and chalk out the solution. For instance, in China, DHL is a member of the China medical device association and we are in constant talks with China FDA on formatting regulatory guidelines for transportation of healthcare products. We demonstrate the critical role supply chain systems play in ensuring the shipment of genuine products in the country and their safe delivery. In Australia, we are working closely with the government to advice on regulatory standards for the shipment of pharmaceutical products.
Pharmaceutical and medical device companies need collaborations with us to ensure safer delivery. We have a team of experts for different stages of shipment, be it analysing the infrastructure at delivery stations, compliance with regulatory guidelines, or temperature monitoring of some specific products. We have to pull out all these expertise to provide a seamless solution. We have subject matter experts who provide specific solutions be it security, business continuity plans or regulatory guidelines for security standards.