Pet Medications a Dangerous New Frontier in Counterfeit Goods

By Andre Caprio | Posted on February 6, 2024

Pet Medications a Dangerous New Frontier in Counterfeit Goods

When people think of counterfeit goods, designer handbags, and brand-name sneakers usually come to mind. But there is another category of counterfeit goods that hits a bit closer to home for most people — pet medications. 

Pet ownership is on the rise. The pandemic bolstered pet ownership, which was already extremely popular. Over 23 million American households adopted pets, nearly 1 in 5, during the pandemic. Today, nearly 70% of American homes have pets, and most of them are on medications. Like human medications, counterfeiters target pet medications. Anti-counterfeiting technologies such as serialization can protect pet safety and provide brand protection.

Online Pet Medicine Marketplace

For decades, veterinarians were the suppliers of pet medications. They were uniquely positioned to write prescriptions for pets and dispense those medications. Unlike human healthcare, where doctors prescribe, and pharmacists dispense. Pet owners purchased all their medications at the veterinarian’s office. 

The rise of online shopping changed that paradigm. Now, pet owners obtain a prescription from their vet and can either purchase their medications on the spot at the vet office or shop online at the numerous sites that sell pet medications.

Pet Safety Put at Risk

This dramatic market shift to online pet med shopping has many benefits, including convenience and the ability to price shop. However, along with the advantages come risks. Unfortunately, the online marketplace is flooded with fake pet medicines that can be harmful to pets and their owners. The counterfeit meds can be expired, contaminated, have sight variations, or have no active ingredients, all putting pet safety at risk.

Hints that Medicine Maybe Counterfeit

It is reported that one in ten pet owners have purchased fake meds online. But how can you tell if the medicine you received is counterfeit? A big tipoff is if the site does not require a prescription. Another red flag is if the price is ridiculously lower than other channels. Bogus products often smell odd. Sometimes, the directions are missing or are not in English. Other times, the package is not child-resistant.  

Securing the Pet Medication Supply Chain

Over 10 years ago congress passed the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), whose core objectives are to protect consumers from exposure to dangerous drugs, including counterfeits, diverted, stolen, and contaminated medicines, as well as facilitate how the industry manages and executes the drug recall process. This law helps protect the human pharmaceutical supply chain and patient safety. The law mandated that all human medications must be serialized, so that they can be tracked and traced from manufacturer to dispenser. Similar laws are being considered for the pet medication industry.

Preventing Counterfeit Pet Medication with Serialization 

A track and trace system is needed to verify that the information on the label is valid. Track and trace systems use unique product identifiers, such as the previously mentioned serial numbers, to track individual products throughout the supply chain, from production to end consumers. It helps manufacturers significantly reduce counterfeiting by ensuring products can be easily identified. Modern track and trace are cloud-based systems and provide 24/7/365 access for product verification. Intelligent labeling and track and trace systems can protect pets from dangerous counterfeit medications.

Protecting pet safety and brands requires a proactive approach; learn how serialization can help.

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