It is a challenge to combine instant authentication and traceability of products for pharma companies. Although traceability is often mandatory it does not protect against counterfeiting. Cryptoglyph combined with any traceability solution will effectively secure the supply chain.


Pharma companies need authentication solutions

Counterfeiting is a huge problem especially in African and Eastern European markets. According to a BBC article, patients will buy from unregulated markets when hospital pharmacies go out of stock. Here, the risk of having ineffectual or even worse, health-damaging drugs is very high.


Pharma companies’ aim to protect the patient safety, therefore many of these companies already put in place a task force who will go and buy products in order to check their authenticity. Most of the time, the checks require forensic investigations which take significant time and effort. Authentication solutions can speed-up this process by only doing forensic investigations on suspect samples. In case the authentication solution is instant, for instance with a smartphone, then the task force could potentially only buy suspect products, thus improving the efficiency of their work.


Traceability is required for pharma packages

A possible reason why hospital pharmacies run out of stock may be that those products are easily diverted. Sometimes pharma companies sell them cheaper to countries with less purchasing power. Traceability is therefore required on the pharma packages to fight against a grey market.

Traceability is also sometimes required by regulators. Click here to know more.

Traceability solutions are most of the time a 2D-barcode, a 2D datamatrix or a QR code.


Traceability does not mean counterfeit protection

Traceability solutions have sometimes been used as counterfeit protection. It is the case that some unique codes need to be scratched to be read and sent via SMS to a central server. This kind of solution provides a false sense of security. Indeed, a unique code is easy to copy and the first to be connected to the central server would be considered as genuine; even it is not.


Traceability is extremely important, but you should be in a position to trust the traceability system. Therefore, it has to be combined with a counterfeit protection system.


Keep low production costs while improving security

The biggest problem of authentication solutions is that their cost is often linearly proportional to the number of protected products. When you produce several billion pharma packages per year, even a cent per package equals a large budget. The challenge is to find a secure authentication solution at a reasonable price.


This would immediately discard overt features, such as holograms but also some covert features such as fluorescence or thermochromic ink that would drastically increase the production costs.


Traceability and counterfeit protection should be a one-step detection for the user

In case the authentication solution is not combined with the traceability solution, the user may decide to check only the traceability and could neglect authentication; especially if the instructions to verify the product are complicated. The easiest way to make sure that both solutions will be verified is to have a one-step verification process where the user will detect the traceability solution thanks to a specific smartphone App that would at the same time detect the authentication feature.


Cryptoglyph – Simplest yet effective solution

Cryptoglyph® technology from AlpVision is a very effective authentication solution that can ensure the authenticity of the traceability information. Composed of tiny holes in the varnish or plain colour layer; it does not require any change to the printing process nor to the printing consumables. That makes it one of few technologies with zero production cost.


In addition, Cryptoglyph® can be verified with a smartphone app containing a specific module in order to perform verification of the track and trace information and Cryptoglyph at the same time. The results are then collected in a single easy to read result. The possibility of integrating Cryptoglyph with different types of traceability information has been demonstrated in a joint demonstration system with WCO and has been deployed with proprietary systems from brand owners since then.


If you oversee packaging security in a pharmaceutical company and require more information about how we can help you secure and trust your traceability system, please contact us and we will be delighted to organize a video conference with you.

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