HP targets counterfeit drugs with global authentication service

HP has adapted one of its technologies to create a cloud-based track-and-trace solution that aims to stem the worldwide problem of counterfeit and stolen drugs – a $75 billion black market that claims as many as 700,000 lives each year.

Executives say the HP Global Authentication Service allows pharmaceutical companies to monitor the movement of products through their global supply chains with a much higher degree of accuracy. This helps protect consumers against dangerous or ineffective drugs and enables pharmaceutical companies to protect their revenue and intellectual property.

The service is initially being rolled out in India due to the phenomenal growth in that country’s Rx industry, which also is seeing the development of a parallel counterfeit drug market.

As of 2009, India’s pharmaceuticals industry was estimated at $21.04 billion. While the country is a leading manufacturer and exporter of high-quality generic and patent drugs, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has also ranked the country as the largest source of counterfeit medicine, with 75 percent of counterfeit drugs worldwide having some origins in India.

Worldwide, counterfeit drugs account for approximately 10 percent of the global drug market, and the World Health Organization estimates that counterfeit drugs constitute 25 percent of the drug market in developing countries.

HP's system, which runs on scalable, cloud-based technology, can also be deployed in other industry sectors, offered in any geographical region and incorporated into an existing drug production system.

The service’s underlying technology engine was originally developed by HP Labs – the company’s central research arm – and the HP Software Platform Services Cloud Services Innovation Center to monitor goods in HP’s supply chain. It was later adapted for use in product recalls in the food industry.

The solution was most recently adapted and deployed in collaboration with the African nonprofit social enterprise mPedigree to track, trace and authenticate a range of life-saving medications in Nigeria and Ghana, with a rollout planned for more countries later this year.

The HP Global Authentication Service works in conjunction with HP’s global printing partners, who are able to print quality labels in high volumes very efficiently even when required in some of the world’s most remote locations.

“HP technology is not only providing commercial benefits to our clients, but also is helping to save lives,” said Prith Banerjee, senior vice president, research, and director, HP Labs. “The success to date with mPedigree and subsequent commercialization of our Global Authentication Service highlights how valuable social innovation initiatives can be in helping bring innovative service offerings to the market.”