Counterfeiting and Piracy of Pharmaceutical Products

Counterfeiting and Piracy of Pharmaceutical Products




Counterfeiting and Piracy of Pharmaceutical Products
Pharmaceutical counterfeit trade has exceeded the $200 billion mark (Mashiri & Sebele-Mpofu, 2015), an exaggerating figure, considering the  number of patients, suppliers, and healthcare providers who have been duped into acquiring products of unverifiable quality and efficacy. Counterfeiting and piracy of pharmaceutical products involves the deliberate deception in masquerading fake product as real, leading to their purchase by unsuspecting consumers. Counterfeiting is different from piracy, as the former refers to the production of fake replicas of the real product. Counterfeiting and piracy need not be the only options for product promotions ac licensing can be used as an alternative means of accumulating market share. Licensing is described as a process of leasing a legal entity that is protected by the law, for purposes of promoting a product. The license could be in form of trademark, logo, features, or other legally protected entities. Licensing is a legal form of using another company’s intellectual property to tap into already-existing marketing, distribution, and production systems. According to  Gabor (2012), counterfeits aim at taking advantage of the superiority of the original products in the market by using their logos and trademarks. On the other hand, piracy is an infringement of intellectual property, and it refers to the unauthorized imitation and production of imitated goods. Counterfeiting and piracy have resulted in economic and health impacts on the customers and the market agents.
Counterfeiting and piracy compromise the consumer’s health and safety. In comparison with verified pharmaceutical products, the latter undergo rigorous verifiable processes which assess the methods used to produce the pharmaceuticals, their effectiveness, and any adverse effects that may be associated with their consumption. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is tasked with reviewing and approving all the drugs within the U.S (Ciociola et al, 2015). However, the production of pharmaceutical goods is made without any supervision from FDA, and it could result in serious health consequences. Blackstone, Fuhr, and Poiask (2014) hold the opinion that an individual with a serious medical condition may purchase counterfeit drugs, believing that they are purchasing the genuine ones. If the drugs are ineffective in treating the medical condition, the individuals’ health condition could deteriorate. 
On a social aspect, counterfeiting and piracy are threatening to innovation. Counterfeiting prevents the owner of the pharmaceutical idea from reaping the fruits of their labor. It takes a long time before the pharmaceutical products can be certified to be sold in the market. Adequate research has to be conducted in order to come up with the design of the product. Additional research is also needed to ensure the effectiveness of the product, and it entails the conduction of drug trials that are performed on animal and human subjects. Nayyar, Breman, and Herrington (2015) posit that when there  is an infiltration of counterfeit goods in the market, the researchers are not adequately rewarded for their efforts. An influx of supply for the pharmaceutical products results in lowered prices. As a result, the original researchers are unable to reclaim the funds that they had invested in the design and production of their products. Consequently, the firms are not motivated to provide innovative pharmaceutical products. Similarly, other companies do not also see the need to introduce new pharmaceutical product designs as they are unlikely to receive adequate compensation for their efforts.
Counterfeited and pirated products threaten the growth of the economy. According to the Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), counterfeited pharmaceutical products are either sold in the primary or the secondary market. The products sold in the primary market are masqueraded as being original, and consumers purchase them unknowingly (Mackey & Liang, 2013). The health effects of such products result in an expansion of the nation’s health budget, as the products are detrimental to the users’ health. The other market, known as the secondary market, is comprised of willing buyers and sellers. Here, the consumers are aware that the products are counterfeit or pirated, but they aim at getting lower prices for the products (Mackey & Liang, 2013). The negative effects of the secondary market entail the loss of jobs and the closure of pharmaceutical businesses. The increased supply of cheaper product alternatives may affect the market, causing the prices for the genuine products to go down. As a result, firms selling genuine pharmaceutical products may lay off some of their workers due to the declining demand for their products. On the other hand, manufacturing companie 

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