According to a report by the ARD published on May 17th, another case of drug counterfeiting was uncovered at the University Hospital of Munich. A woman with cancer was successfully treated with the drug Sutent. After a time, the treatment stopped working. Investigations showed that the woman had received a fake drug from her pharmacy. Seven other deaths to similar illnesses in the university clinic were also known. The public prosecutor’s office sprang in to action, but the investigations were lost due to a lack of evidence.
The manufacturer has been able to maintain their innocence. According to their data, no counterfeits have been known for 10 years and due to the closed production chain used by the company, counterfeits are almost impossible. Everything concerning trade, distribution, and imports is no longer the responsibility of the manufacturer.
The company hid an undercover investigation from 2011 after having been informed of the potential for Sutent counterfeits. Nevertheless, the investigation had apparently stopped after ARD searches in order to avoid PR damage.
Huge losses to drug counterfeiting occurring yearly
The WHO estimates that 1% of all drugs in Europe (and 10% of drugs worldwide) are counterfeits. One million people die annually as a result of the effects of counterfeit drugs.
The customs clearance in Essen alone last year uncovered 3.5 million pills worth 14 million Euros.
German law on import quotas favor drug counterfeiting on the market. Since 2002 all pharmacists have been required to sell 5% of reimported drugs.
Losses entirely preventable with Blockchain
If the pharmaceutical company had been using Blockchain technology, no counterfeits could have been brought in to public circulation. Special encryption technology makes Blockchain revision-safe and counterfeits can be detected immediately. Each drug would have a transparent supply chain and could be traced back to the manufacturer.
Documents of any kind could be transferred to the Blockchain as transactions and cannot be changed or deleted afterwards. Thus, drugs are always identifiable one-to-one.