Counterfeiting Pharmaceuticals A Problem Research Paper

Pages: 12 (3303 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: Doctoral  ·  Topic: Medical  (general)

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Sharad's (2014) assessment is supported by Sword's earlier (2010) analysis. Sword, of Thermo Fisher Scientific, also asserts that anti-counterfeiting technology is a viable solution to combating the problem of a counterfeiting pharmaceuticals in today's unregulated markets.

Finally, Davison (2011), author of Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeiting: Combating the Real Danger from Fake Drugs, asserts that authentication is imperative in reducing the risk faced by counterfeiters within the market place. Authentication is the only means available by which consumers can be assured that the product they receive is what the advertising says it will be. By using authentication measure such as tracking technology, RFID, or other measures available to producers, distribution can more safely and effectively be accomplished and consumer fears about being hurt by taking a drug that is something other than what it should be can be put to rest in a more systemic manner than any other way available. Thus, the research on this subject is clear: anti-counterfeiting technology works, it is effective, and it should be implemented in order to product both producers and consumers from potentially fatal counterfeit substitutes.

2.2 Research Design and Methods

Informed by a thorough research literature review, the research aims to explore primary research using three real-world pharmaceutical company case studies through interviews. This research study incorporates a qualitative approach with the acquisition of both primary and secondary data. It is also acknowledged that research is an iterative rather than linear process; a qualitative method is hence preferred in order to understand and explain how and why things happen, and give in-depth insight into complex phenomena and processes (Silverman, 2010). Case studies provide in-depth information about specific anti-counterfeit technologies and trends, which can then be drawn upon to generate insights. Primary data was collected through semi-structured interviews, discussions and participatory methods. Semi-structure interviews were chosen as they provide reliable, comparable qualitative data and allow informants the freedom to express their views and thoughts more openly (Silverman, 2010). Using a list of standardised questions, semi-structured interviews allow the interviewer to omit or add to some of the questions, depending on the situation and the flow of the conversation (Bryman, 2001).

Interviews were electronically transcribed and data organised according to the interview topics and emerging themes. This primary data was conceptually analysed establishing the existence and frequency of concepts. Through a process of qualitative content analysis and coding the data was mapped graphically to identify and present the themes emerging from the research data (Silverman, 1993).

Case Study 1: Shire Inc. is a mid size biotechnology company that is focused on serving individuals who are suffering from rare diseases and highly specialized conditions. Shire has expanded into several emerging markets and has recently introduced Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) anti-counterfeit technology into their product. Interviews were conducted with four key supply chain managers whom have direct knowledge of the implementation of the anti-counterfeit technology and how it affects their company.

Case Study 2: Bluepharma is a mid size pharmaceutical company that is focused on the development and distribution of generic drugs to the underserved market. Blue Pharma has distributes product into emerging markets for the last seven years. Bluepharma is not only dedicated to the safety and quality of their pharmaceutical products but also recognizes the importance of social sustainability and their responsibility to implement it. Bluepharma has incorporated an anti-counterfeit technology known as Thin Layer Technology (TLC). TLC is a small minilab that test for active ingredient accuracy and fits in a small suitcase. Interviews were conducted with four individuals including the CEO whom are directly involved in insuring the quality of Bluepharma's supply chain as well as implementation of their anti-counterfeit technology and how it has affected their supply and value chain.

3. Critical Analysis

To the question of whether the company had seen economic benefit to the organization and mitigation of negative societal impact through its sustainability approach, both Shire Pharmaceutical and Bluepharma replied, "Yes." The reasons for the affirmative answer were similar: Shire reported that through RFID implementation, the company had been able to increase distribution via independent distributors and hospitals; the implication here is that new markets are aware of contingencies and risks associated with counterfeiting and want to work with companies that are prepared to mitigate these risks: doing so thus opens up new doors in terms of exposure to new markets and territories, as Shire stated in the interview. The use of independent distributors (a potentially risky practice because it is through such actors that counterfeiting most commonly occurs) is mitigated by the RFID technology. Thus, because the company is able to control the flow of its product and track it, exposure to potentially risky distributors is hedged by the anti-counterfeiting technology.

BluePharma essentially gave the same response when explaining its affirmation: it was able to ensure new markets (hospitals, clinics and pharmacies) that the products they were receiving from the company were legitimate and had been tracked entirely from shipping point A to receiving point B; this serves as a kind of Norton Guarantee in the pharmaceutical world and opens up the company to doing new business with clients that want to be assured of protection of products that they will in turn be using or selling. From a B2B or B2C standpoint, this method of tracking products and implementing anti-counterfeiting technology is the best solution possible for both firm and customer.

Both companies also affirmed that there are social benefits that emanate from the mitigation of counterfeiting. Shire explained that anti-counterfeiting technology helps to build brand trust with distributors and clients. Bluepharma expressed the same sense -- that the technology enabled the company to build trust with clients. This emphasis of trust is important as it is the cornerstone of healthy relationships and can be explained in the following manner: a consumer seeks a product but is uncertain as to whether the product being purchased is actually the product advertised. This uncertainty leads to reluctance to buy, which leads to ailments going untreated. Untreated ailments lead to an unhealthy society, as work is missed, family lives are disrupted, and social normative patters are disrupted as a result. By going back to the issue of the firm providing the client with what is advertising along with a guarantee that what is advertised is what is being purchased, the firm and the consumer forge a relationship based on trust that can develop both into brand loyalty and into healthier, functioning communities, as the needed treatment is being confidently purchased and used. Thus the positive social impact of using anti-counterfeiting technology is evident, according to the analysis of both companies.

Likewise, both companies agreed that using this technology enable them to maintain a sustainable value chain and protect the health of the end user/patient. Shire explained that the implementation of RFID tracking had resulted in a 14% reduction of counterfeiting in the firm's supply chain along with a decrease in pharmaceutical theft. This reduction thus boosted the overall sustainable value chain in terms of ensuring that the most effective product is reaching its intended designation. Bluepharma indicated that its own exposure to counterfeiting had been reduced by nearly half -- 45% over the past 2 years. Both companies similarly agreed that the value chain and their company's integrity was supported by anti-counterfeiting technology, with the results being extremely important, positive and valuable to their respective firms.

In the final analysis of these two companies, the use of anti-counterfeiting technology can clearly be seen as a strong indicator of a solid corporate social responsibility program being put into place and have effective and efficient results in terms of value chain management, brand loyalty building, and community trust being secured.

4. Conclusion

The conclusion reached here is that in order for Cure to expand into new markets it will have to rely upon independent distributors and meet the needs and demands of hospitals, clinics and pharmacies which seek stronger guarantees about the authenticity of products. While using independent distributors can be cost efficient, it comes with the attendant risk of losing product to counterfeiters. A win-win situation can be generated by working with these distributors and employing anti-counterfeiting technology to ensure that the products shipped are the products received. This will help achieve three aims:

1) Using anti-counterfeiting technology ensures that trust can be established in the consumer-producer relationship.

2) It enables brand loyalty to be fostered as a result of the trust relationship's fostering.

3) It supports social cohesion as the reception and usage of our product facilitates the end to which it is designed -- namely the betterment of individuals, which in and of itself is geared towards supporting social outcomes in work, family and economic/political spheres.

A fourth outcome can also be acknowledged -- this is the proper implementation of a corporate social responsibility policy that positively impacts both the company and the community where it does business.

Thus, the obstacles surrounding this issue are trust… [END OF PREVIEW]

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