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ASPA Empowering Consumers with its Initiatives Against Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals

ASPA Empowering Consumers with its Initiatives Against Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals

Manoj Kochar , President, ASPA


Q: Can you explain how ASPA's public awareness campaigns address the issue of counterfeit pharmaceuticals?

ASPA recognizes the grave risks posed by counterfeit drugs and medical devices to public health and safety. Through robust public awareness initiatives, ASPA aims to educate consumers about the dangers of counterfeit pharmaceuticals, including potential health hazards, ineffective treatment, and long-term complications. By leveraging various communication channels, ASPA informs the public about common counterfeiting tactics and empowers them with knowledge and tools to effectively identify and avoid fraudulent pharmaceutical products. ASPA collaborates closely with prominent industry stakeholders, forging strategic partnerships to pioneer innovative authentication and traceability solutions like holograms, track and trace solutions, and security labels. These cutting-edge technologies enable consumers to swiftly verify medication authenticity, mitigating the risk of inadvertently purchasing counterfeit drugs. ASPA's efforts underscore its commitment to public health, informed consumer choices, and establishing a safer, more secure pharmaceutical supply chain by alleviating the societal impact of counterfeit drugs through pioneering authentication solutions and emphasizing the crucial role of consumer awareness in safeguarding community well-being.

Q: What role do security labels play to ensure the authenticity of pharmaceutical products and how is ASPA promoting it?

Security labels play a critical role in guaranteeing the authenticity of pharmaceutical products by incorporating advanced anti-counterfeiting features such as holograms, microtext, specialized inks, and unique serialization or barcodes. These tamper-evident labels enable comprehensive track-and-trace capabilities throughout the supply chain, swiftly verifying a product's legitimacy and deterring counterfeiting attempts. ASPA actively promotes the adoption of security labels among pharmaceutical manufacturers to combat the proliferation of counterfeit drugs. Through industry collaborations and educational initiatives, ASPA raises awareness about the importance of implementing these cutting-edge authentication solutions. By championing the widespread deployment of security labels, ASPA aims to establish a more secure and trustworthy pharmaceutical ecosystem, empowering stakeholders to verify product authenticity and ensure patient safety.

Q: Can you provide details about the "PharmaGuard" webinar and how can it help in educating the masses about the dangers of counterfeit drugs?

The PharmaGuard webinar was a collaborative endeavor between ASPA and TechSci Research, aimed at tackling the issue of counterfeit drugs in the pharmaceutical sector. During this event, experts shed light on the risks posed by counterfeit medications, including potential health hazards and treatment inefficiencies. Attendees had the opportunity to delve into advanced technologies like track and trace, holograms and security labelling, which enhance supply chain traceability and authentication mechanisms.

Notably, the webinar fostered an invaluable dialogue among industry leaders and consumer advocacy groups, enabling them to exchange counterfeit prevention strategies and bolster supply chain security. By shedding light on the dangers of counterfeit drugs and showcasing innovative solutions, the PharmaGuard webinar equipped participants with insights to combat this pressing issue effectively.

The event featured esteemed panelists, including Mr. Manoj Kochar, President of ASPA; Mr. Jijo Raju, Associate VP at Alkem Laboratories Ltd.; Mr. Prashant Kumar Gupta, VP & CBS at Shriram Veritech Solutions Pvt. Ltd.; and Mr. Alwin Samuel, VP at TechSci Research, who moderated the discussions. Veritech served as the sponsor for this insightful event. 

Q: In what ways does ASPA engage with policymakers and consumer advocacy groups to address counterfeiting?

ASPA plays a crucial role in combating counterfeiting in India through its multifaceted approach. Firstly, it engages with policymakers and consumer groups, leveraging the ASPA & CRISIL Anti-Counterfeiting Report 2022 to provide an in-depth overview of the counterfeit landscape. Notably, while official figures may be low, the report indicates that industry experts estimate higher levels of counterfeiting, particularly in tier II/III cities and villages.

Secondly, ASPA maintains a public repository of counterfeit product raid information across various sectors, including pharmaceuticals, automobiles, and apparel empowering consumers with knowledge about counterfeiting incidents. This repository keeps the government and consumers updated on counterfeit seizures and the techniques employed. Regular stakeholder meetings ensure effective utilization of the data collected.

Thirdly, as a leading anti-counterfeiting body, ASPA partners with various groups to organize webinars, seminars, and events. These platforms foster dialogue, knowledge sharing, and consumer education on identifying counterfeit products. Through such initiatives, ASPA facilitates open discussions and disseminates crucial information to combat counterfeiting.

Finally, ASPA's data-driven advocacy, exemplified by the ASPA & CRISIL report, plays a vital role in supporting policy development, protecting consumers, and securing the marketplace against counterfeit products.

Q: What impact has ASPA seen from its campaigns in terms of changes in consumer behavior or awareness and what advice would ASPA give to consumers to help them distinguish between genuine and counterfeit pharmaceutical products?

ASPA's campaigns significantly impact consumer behavior and awareness regarding counterfeit pharmaceutical products. The ASPA and CRISIL 2022 report identified hotspots like Indore (29%), Hyderabad (32%), Jalandhar (23%), and Chennai (25%) due to domestic demand-supply gaps. To address this, ASPA launched targeted, region-specific awareness initiatives utilizing consumer surveys and data-driven advocacy through public repositories, stakeholder meetings, and local partnerships.

ASPA advises consumers to look for anti-counterfeit technologies like holograms, QR codes, and security features on packaging. Consumers are encouraged to inspect for tampering signs, errors, and missing information, and use manufacturer apps or online tools to verify authenticity.

Overall, ASPA's region-specific, data-informed campaigns prove effective in increasing consumer awareness and fostering cautious purchasing behavior, combating counterfeit pharmaceutical product proliferation.

Q: Looking forward, what new initiatives or programs is ASPA considering to further enhance consumer awareness and safety?

ASPA is implementing several new initiatives to enhance consumer awareness and safety against counterfeit products. The organization is increasing its participation in webinars, events, and seminars to educate the public about the dangers of counterfeit goods. These targeted educational campaigns leverage various media platforms and collaborations with consumer advocacy groups to disseminate information on identifying and avoiding counterfeit products effectively.

In its quest to expand influence, ASPA aims to grow its membership base beyond the current 80 members and is actively seeking global partners. This fosters international collaboration in the fight against counterfeiting. One major upcoming event is Drupa 2024, scheduled for June 2nd in Düsseldorf, Germany. This event, which ASPA is organizing, will focus on innovations in authentication and traceability, underscoring ASPA's commitment to global recognition and leadership in anti-counterfeiting technologies.

ASPA also partners with industries prone to counterfeiting, such as cosmetics and food & beverages, participating actively in webinars and educational initiatives to combat counterfeiting in these sectors. These efforts aim to enhance consumer awareness, promote best practices, and protect public health, safety, and economic interests across various industries.

Articles about interviews | May - 27 - 2024



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