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COVID-19 criminality highlights pressing need for anti-counterfeiting investment

07 May 2020

THE INTERNATIONAL Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA) suggests that new reports concentrating on criminals cashing-in on the COVID-19 crisis serve to highlight the urgent need for still more investment in anti-counterfeiting technologies.

The message from the IHMA comes as Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office issue a fresh warning* over counterfeit goods, AND particularly so with reference to the international trade in fake pharmaceuticals, which is now worth in excess of $4 billion.

The World Health Organisation has also warned about the growth in the number of fake medicines linked to Coronavirus on sale in developing countries in Africa and other parts of the world, where counterfeiters are exploiting gaps in the market.

Indeed, the IHMA claims that another report from the USA confirms that people are ‘worried’ about purchasing fake goods as the pandemic continues to bite into consumer confidence. More than 68% of US consumers are worried that there might be more counterfeit or sub-standard quality products sold online as a result of COVID-19.

The IHMA states that, as the pandemic continues and law enforcement and Government agencies remain stretched in the face of the challenges faced in the current climate, brand owners and product manufacturers can be far more proactive in tackling the counterfeiting threat. This includes considering stepping up their plans for investment in advanced authentication and verification technologies to protect brands, profits and reputation.

Dr Paul Dunn, chair of the IHMA, told Security Matters: “Crafty criminals are taking advantage of the situation to use illegal global supply channels, sophisticated scams and fake documentation to obscure the origin of counterfeit products and their provenance. That is having a significant impact on consumer confidence and well-being during this time of global crisis. In particular, the dangers fake medicines and drugs pose to people’s health and safety are significant. These reports reinforce the role of holograms as effective weapons in the front line fight against counterfeiters and fraudsters. They will continue to enhance brand protection. All involved in the supply chain can be reassured by the presence of holograms on products, duly recognising the benefits they provide.”

Dunn feels strongly that the holography industry is responding to the crisis, with IHMA members offering products and technical expertise in the battle to secure supply chains and help Government agencies combat the virus. This includes one company that has been proactive in maintaining the delivery of security labels to support key pharmaceutical manufacturers for use in medicines, equipment and delivery systems.

The use of well-designed and properly deployed authentication solutions, as advocated by ISO 12931, enables examiners to verify the authenticity of a legitimate product, differentiating it from fake products coming from the aforementioned counterfeiting hot spots in Asia and eastern Europe. Even those that carry a ‘fake’ authentication feature can be distinguished from the genuine item if that item carries a carefully thought-out authentication solution.