Central Anti-Counterfeit Laboratories - a Strategy to fight against Counterfeit Medicines

Pharmaceutical Manufacturers increase their efforts to fight against counterfeit medicines by establishing dedicated facilities. One example is the Central Anti-Counterfeit Laboratory which is an integral part of the sanofi-aventis group's initiative against counterfeiting. The pharmaceutical plant established in Tours is mainly devoted to the production and packaging of solid, oral products-tablets and capsules-including a number of the Group's most important drugs. With an annual production of over 60 million boxes (i.e. 2.5 billion units) in 2007, the plant is a major economic player in the Centre region of France. The plant employs 450 people (in Production, Industrial Development and support services) and covers an area of 65,000 m2. In 2008 the sanofi-aventis Central Anti-Counterfeit Laboratory was officially inaugurated

The Laboratory, with its team of experts and state-of-the-art equipment, has a three-fold remit:

  • to conduct direct examinations of packaging items and leaflets as well as definitive chemical tests on suspect samples of commonly counterfeited products
  • to develop test methods and distribute them globally in order to allow any industrial plant in the world to inspect and test, with the same criteria, the suspect products corresponding to those manufactured by sanofi-aventis
  • to centralise "Identity Cards" for the counterfeit drugs found, in a single, central data base, to make it possible to compare different types of counterfeit.

The Central Anti-Counterfeit Laboratory is a key tool at the disposal of the regulatory agencies, the police and the customs as well, of course, as the courts in France and in any other country involved. Aware of the threat to public health posed by counterfeit drugs, the sanofi-aventis Group is making a solid commitment to combating this curse by gathering as much information and evidence as possible to help the authorities to fight efficiently against this dangerous, criminal enterprise. To this end, substantial human and material resources are being committed to the project and all the group's divisions are being mobilised. And after just over two years, the results are already concrete: in 2007, more than 2.5 million doses of counterfeited sanofi-aventis products were discovered throughout the world. Mobilisation of the group has spectacularly increased the rate of identification of suspected counterfeit products:

  • discoveries that could be categorised as "accidental": identified by locally based
    institutions or sales representatives, reported by patients or pharmacovigilance,
    discovered by the police or customs
  • discoveries associated with routine market monitoring operations - by the anonymous
    purchasing of certain drugs in pharmacies in a given country or town, or on the Internet
  • discoveries associated with information from other pharmaceutical companies with
    samples provided for rapid testing and comparison

It will be interesting to see if further companies will follow this approach.  The industry case study about sanofi-aventis' Counterfeit Testing Laboratory in Tours will be presented by Nathalie Tallet, sanofi-aventis, France at the Conference "Strategies against counterfeit medicines" in Würzburg (near Franfurt) from 26-28 April 2010.

Source: Sanofi Aventis Press Release

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