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Securing Your Pharma and Medical Supply Chain

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The number one concern today for most manufacturers is how to secure their supply chain to ensure that their products are genuine and made to specification. That’s especially critical in the pharmaceutical industry where products such as prefilled syringes and inhalers are becoming more common.

Some anti-counterfeiting measures that are being employed include holographic in-mold labels, molded into the syringe or inhaler device that can only be read under black light, and RFID (radio frequency identification) tags on the packaging. However, one effective key to securing and authenticating the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical supply chain starts with the plastic materials used in the drug syringe or container for example.

Containers and syringes used in pre-filled medicine applications must be molded from polymer materials that are lot traceable and do not create negative reactions between the drug being put into the container or syringe and the polymer material, thus ensuring the stability and effectiveness of the drug. In some cases, counterfeit polymer materials are used to mold containers and syringes, which then can cause negative reactions between the drug and the polymer container/syringe. As more medical devices, including implantable devices, are manufactured from polymer materials, these have also become subject to counterfeiting, giving rise to the need for better authentication measures. While labels and RFID tags on the packaging might seem to be effective in tracking the supply chain, it is the material used in the device that needs to be authenticated. One example from several years ago was a counterfeit version of Ethicon’s Prolene polypropylene surgical mesh used in hernia repair. Healthcare workers were told how to detect the counterfeit mesh: the Ethicon logo was a bolder typeface; the seal on the package didn’t tear smoothly, and the fake product had a “tighter weave that is asymmetrical” noting that healthcare workers should look at the photos provided by the company to determine if the product they are about to use is real or fake. Obviously, in a surgery setting this might be difficult to do.

PCC’s MiBatch™ material taggant is the leading technology in anti-counterfeiting efforts. The specially customized material taggants are designed to have a unique “fingerprint” specific to the product. This material “fingerprint” can be read by a laboratory or handheld device that authenticates the marker in the material and ensures the reliability of the product. Medical device and pharmaceutical OEMs can easily perform quality checks on their products to ensure authenticity no matter how good the packaging or the label on the counterfeit product might be.

Plastics Color Corp. has always made it our business to provide the latest, state-of-the-art compounds to help pharmaceutical and nutraceutical companies secure their supply chain in the most optimum way.  With our “Plant Within A Plant” segregated manufacturing facility at our Asheboro, NC campus for compounding specialty materials, and our newest cutting-edge clean compounding facility in Southern California, built specifically to produce engineering-grade materials for pharmaceutical, medical and food products, PCC provides these innovative taggant compounds that have proven ideal for OEMs’ risk mitigation efforts and supply chain security.

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