Supply Chain Matters notes yet another installment in the continued risk of counterfeit drugs and goods within supply chains.

The Financial Times reported that leading generics drug producer Teva Pharmaceutical is stepping-up quality inspections of its products across Europe after discovering a sophisticated counterfeiting operation involving a popular off-patent heartburn treatment medicine.  The fake versions of the drug Omeprazole were discovered by Ratiopharm, a subsidiary of Teva after being alerted from a patient in Germany, who noticed spelling mistakes on the label of the packaged drug. Apparently, the drug contained genuine ingredients but was not produced by the manufacturer stated on the label. While the counterfeit version of this drug does not appear to pose a health risk, it has exposed weaknesses in government drug discount reimbursement programs based on the volume of drugs sold. A spokesperson for Teva was quoted as noting that this company was somewhat surprised to discover this counterfeiting scheme involving one of its products. Stepped-up efforts now include random testing of the company’s products that are in distribution, along with other products.

The alert has now triggered other manufacturers of Omeprazole to make further discoveries of fake versions of both the 20 milligram and 40 milligram packs of this drug.  One other manufacturer mentioned included Hexal, a subsidiary of Sandoz.  Here again, it is noted that while the unit cost of this drug is relatively low, thieves have been able to generate substantial profits through volume distribution of the counterfeit version.

Bob Ferrari