Counterfeit medicine is an increasing problem for public health and economy. This is no longer a problem of certain regions such as Asia and Africa. It has now also become an issue in the EU and the US. In the past, counterfeit medicines could not enter the legal supply chain in the EU and US. But the problem has now also been arising in western countries. A number of cases of counterfeit medicines were detected recently. In order to cope with this increasing problem, the EU has introduced a regulation which requires that as of 9th February 2019 certain medicinal products can only enter the EU market if a 2D barcode is used as a safety feature. This code must be applied on the packaging in readable form.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) published a press release on 29 September 2016 in which they state that fake medicines cost the EU pharmaceutical sector 10.2 billion Euro every year. The counterfeit products cause a loss of 4.4% of the legitimate sales of pharmaceuticals. This means "37,700 jobs directly lost across the pharmaceutical sector in the EU" according to the report. Only for Germany, an annual loss of 1 billion Euro has been calculated which caused a direct job loss of 6,951. Regarding other countries, the figures are: Italy 1.59 billion, France 1 billion, Spain 1,17 billion and UK 605 million loss annually.