Counterfeiting of medicines is a serious criminal act that puts people's lives at risk and is often part of organised crime. A counterfeit medicine can only reach a patient through community pharmacies if someone in the legitimate supply chain has done business with a criminal. So the most effective way of preventing counterfeiting of medicines is to ensure the integrity of the medicines supply chain through all parties doing business with certified partners only and exercising appropriate levels of due diligence.
Technical features as being proposed by the European Commission (such as mass serialisation, seals, or other similar features) do not stop criminal behaviour such as counterfeiting. They can only be seen as secondary lines of defence potentially helping to trace identified counterfeit medicines, and may give a false sense of security. They should therefore only be applied compulsorily to products at high risk of counterfeiting as required by European legislation and where they could be cost-effective.
Unsurprisingly, counterfeiters focus their efforts on high priced branded products and not generics. Though we are not complacent, we note that no counterfeit generic medicine has been discovered in the European Union.