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Security measures (sidebar)

Countering drug counterfeiters: A new initiative
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Drugs present an irresistible and lucrative target for counterfeiters. On July 16 2003 the Food and Drug Administration launched a major initiative to more aggressively protect American consumers from counterfeit drugs.

“The sole purpose of this initiative is to develop new and innovative ways to make sure that Americans can continue to have confidence that the drugs they buy are in fact the real deal” stated FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan. “There are new technologies and new opportunities for counterfeit drugs to reach Americans but there are also new technologies and opportunities for FDA to protect the integrity of our drug supply.”

Packaging plays a crucial role: Part of the initiative is to assess the extent to which new technologies such as counterfeit-resistant packaging product identifiers such as chemical taggants and implanted radio-frequency chips in packaging can help assure the authenticity of drugs.

For example in Southeast Asian countries approximately 10% of drugs on the market are believed to be counterfeited. In China authorities estimate that for some drugs the percentage of counterfeit copies is as high as 50%. For further information visit www.fda.gov/oc/initiatives/counterfeit.

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