Executive Briefings

How Pfizer Keeps Tabs on Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Tablets

Investigating dealers of counterfeit drugs is similar to investigating drug cartels, Pfizer has found. It's easy for detectives to jump out and catch the guys selling pills on the corner. It's much harder to catch the kingpins. There's one big difference, though. With cocaine, say, the whole supply chain"”from farming to retailing"”tends to be run by one cartel. With fake pharmaceuticals, the marketplace is open and alliances are constantly shifting. To get to the source, detectives typically start with small-time retailers and work their way up the supply chain.

Most purchases begin online. For example, a consumer searches for "discount Viagra" and clicks on a link offering low-cost versions. At a traditional pharmacy, Viagra sells for $15 or so a tablet. Fakes online cost as little as $1 per. The e-retailers, sometimes called "affiliate sites," are often designed to suggest a bustling operation based on a real clinic. When a consumer places an order on an affiliate site, he's handed off to a "core site," which pays the marketers for referrals. A core site may work with hundreds of affiliates. To fill an order, the core operator turns to a network of suppliers. Most of these are based in India and China, often alongside the factories making legitimate drugs.

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Keywords: supply chain risk management, anti-counterfeiting and brand protection, fake pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical pedigrees

Most purchases begin online. For example, a consumer searches for "discount Viagra" and clicks on a link offering low-cost versions. At a traditional pharmacy, Viagra sells for $15 or so a tablet. Fakes online cost as little as $1 per. The e-retailers, sometimes called "affiliate sites," are often designed to suggest a bustling operation based on a real clinic. When a consumer places an order on an affiliate site, he's handed off to a "core site," which pays the marketers for referrals. A core site may work with hundreds of affiliates. To fill an order, the core operator turns to a network of suppliers. Most of these are based in India and China, often alongside the factories making legitimate drugs.

Read Full Article


Keywords: supply chain risk management, anti-counterfeiting and brand protection, fake pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical pedigrees