Did you know that 10% of all medicines are estimated to be counterfeit? Counterfeit medicines are found everywhere in the world, putting lives at risk and undermining the credibility of pharmaceutical products. Online pharmacies are proliferating, and 50% of prescription medicines that are bought from Internet sites that conceal their physical address are counterfeit. Pharmaceutical counterfeiting is an increasing problem for companies and society at large, with patient safety and intellectual property both threatened by the criminal activity. To help our customers protect their IP and patients, WuXi has invested in and will explore collaborations with TruTag Technologies to offer its anti-counterfeiting technology to WuXi’s global pharmaceutical customers. This week we sat down with TruTag Chief Operating Officer Peter Wong to discuss the partnership.
Tell us more about TruTag Technologies.
We have developed a leading edge technology platform to address the enormous global challenge of counterfeiting, particularly high-value, high volume products that are life critical, such as prescription drugs. Our specially coded microtags can be coated onto medicine and serve as “covert, edible bar codes” that can be incorporated into the very fabric of the drugs themselves and reveal if a pill is authentic, as well as other product intelligence. Our technology solution to address this massive health problem has garnered us worldwide recognition, such as being named a 2014 Technology Pioneer company by The World Economic Forum, joining previous award winners like Google, 23&Me, Twitter and Kickstarter.
How does TruTag’s Technology work?
We’ve developed a line of inert, edible microtags that can be incorporated into drug dosage forms. Each microtag is about the size of a particle dust, is virtually invisible to the human eye, and is made of high-purity silica (SiO2), which is a well-known excipient for food and drugs and has been affirmed as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A single gram of “TruTags” contains approximately 12 million micro-particles, each encoded with a unique optical pattern that allows people along the pharmaceutical supply chain to scan a pill with our special readers and confirm its authenticity. In addition, it also reveals other vital information such as the product strength, manufacturing plant, expiration date, and where is it authorized to be sold.
Why do companies need anti-counterfeiting technology?
We view it as an important part of patient safety. Patients need to the know the drugs they take are safe, effective, and from authentic and trusted resources. Sadly, without anti-counterfeiting technology this is difficult to ensure. Fake drugs are estimated to have generated sales of $75 billion in 2010, and despite increasing public awareness, the problem appears to be only getting larger. Every questionable pill represents a threat to public health. As a result, there is a real need for advanced technologies to counter well organized criminal enterprises, which regularly defeat existing anti-counterfeiting measures that are packaging based. “On-dose authentication” is the next level of security for pharmaceutical companies, and forward-thinking manufacturers and brand owners are increasingly seeking such protections.
How do you plan to work with WuXi?
We are honored to be partnering with WuXi, who is committed to enabling innovation for its global partners and is very focused on the integrity and security of its customers’ products and processes. We are exploring collaborations in which TruTag will help WuXi to incorporate the microtags into manufacturing processes for its pharmaceutical customers. Ultimately we all want the same thing: to guarantee that all patients always receive the safe, effective medicines they need, while the intellectual property arising from the innovative R&D of pharmaceutical companies is protected.