Any compromise to the integrity of a supply chain can be disastrous for all businesses involved with it. With some patience, innovative strategies and careful planning, they can bounce back after some time if all that's lost is money and some customers. However, when a bad product gets through suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers and into the hands of the general public, there can be serious and permanent consequences.
That's the concern about the pharmaceutical supply chain for obvious reasons. When a counterfeit drug gets distributed, lives are at stake. Recently, we covered the leak of bootleg Avastin, a medication used to treat various types of cancer. The fake version of the drug, which was produced overseas, didn't have the active ingredient in it, so patients weren't provided with the treatment they needed to fight off the horrible disease.
Most instances of counterfeit drugs are imported from foreign countries, where label tracking and traceability can be compromised because label compliance standards aren't as stringent. That's why GS1 has been trying to bring the global supply chain under one universal set of regulations for so long.
IBM, which has always seemed to show a genuine interest in bettering supply chains, announced earlier this month that it's partnered with Sproxil to develop a system of verification within the pharmaceutical supply chain that will allow consumers to authenticate that their medications are unadulterated. This is a huge step forward for the movement to improve technological integration in the global system of supply chains.
Not only does this effort have the potential to protect consumers, it could also save the pharmaceutical industry a lot of money. According to eWEEK, imported counterfeit drugs cost the industry as much as $75 billion annually.