Say no to counterfeit medicine

The EU’s Medications Verification System roots counterfeit medicine from the market

The EU’s Falsified Medicines Directive requires that starting in February 2019, each package of prescription medicine is marked with an individual identifier. The change will have a significance impact on the entire distribution chain of pharmaceuticals all the way from pharmaceutical companies to wholesalers and pharmacies.

Information system verifies authenticity

“In future, pharmaceutical packaging will include even more information, and the traceability of pharmaceuticals will also become even better than it is,” says Essi Kariaho, Director of the Pharmaceutical Information Centre.

“Up to now, pharmaceutical packages have been individualised on the packaging-level. In future, each and every package of prescription pharmaceuticals will be individualised with a GTIN product code and an individual serial number, and the authenticity of each packaging can be undeniably verified from a European database.”

The distribution chain becomes more streamlined and safer

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The most significant benefit of the new Medications Verification System is the increase in drug safety. 

“Counterfeit medicines are a huge global business and a real threat to users of pharmaceuticals, as the counterfeits may include ingredients that are of bad quality, ineffective or even dangerous. Finland has not been spared of this development: we have also encountered counterfeit medicine here in the legal distribution chain,” tells Kariaho.

“Infiltrating counterfeits in the market has been difficult before but it will become practically impossible in the future.”

The new system also streamlines the flow of information in the distribution chain: data will travel the logistics chain easier than before, and pharmacies and hospitals can automatise processes by storing the validity of medicine and information about the manufacturing batches directly to their own systems, for instance. This increases the efficiency of operations, makes product recalls easier and decreases the possibility of human error.

Significant investment

Transferring into a new system has brought with it many advantages but it has been an immense effort. Implementing a Medications Verification System on an international and domestic level requires building common databases and practices, establishing new organisations and large-scale education and communications. Pharmaceutical companies are also facing significant investments in new factory and packaging lines and information systems. 

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