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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

HP conducts PackEdge - a conference to combat drug counterfeit through digital printing solutions

Spread of spurious, counterfeit and substandard drugs is a modern day menace which has been recognised internationally, especially in India which is the leading distributor of spurious drugs and enjoys a share of 75 per cent in the total fake drugs supplied all over the world. The problem assumes added significance in view of rapid globalisation. To combat such menace, recently HP conducted PackEdge - a conference to combat drug counterfeit through digital printing solutions on 19 July 2011 at Mumbai. The event was attended by CEOs and brand owners of major pharmaceutical companies. The event was hosted in association with SGRE labels – one of the leading names in digital print service providers for labels and packaging catering to the pharma sector.

A panel discussion with industry experts from Hindustan Unilever, HP, some brand owners emphasized on the need of authentication for drugs and create awareness for the same among the people. According to HP one way to fight counterfeit of any kind of product is to ensure better packaging. To explore this opportunity, HP is promoting its digital printing product - HP Indigo press ws4500, which it claims can prevent counterfeiting to a great extent. This teamed up with HP’s authentication services for counterfeiting will be a tool to counter fake drugs and products in the market, claims HP. The authentication service involves instant verification of a medication when a customer is at a drug store or street market. The software involves generation of codes and batch numbers for the pharma labels.

Commenting on the same, Appadurai, Country Head – Indigo and Inkjet Press Solutions, Graphics Solutions Business, HP IPG India stated, “The level of pharmaceutical counterfeiting is approximately five to ten per cent of world trade. This represents a direct revenue loss of $24-$49B for the industry. Keeping this in mind HP is trying to set a new standard by driving the digital shift. Digital variable data printing helps meet expanding market needs and enable solutions that exceed heightened security requirements that too with no high cost attached and thus it is the right time to >>Go Digital<< and do more with less.”

Digital printing- The need of the hour Issues of counterfeiting are of critical interest to HP, both as a victim, and as the provider of solutions to the problem. In the label printing sector, HP Indigo presses offer a range of solutions to combat counterfeiting. They range from the relatively basic bar-coding, numbering and personalisation, to more elaborate solutions using UV techniques, microtext, 2-D barcodes, color coding, and smart packaging solutions. 

During a live demo at the conference, batch numbers along with a message were created and when this scribe sent one particular batch number for authentication, he got the reply within few seconds displaying the message. "This cloud system can do more than just authenticate. It can readily track and trace where drugs are at a certain time, providing valuable intelligence if drugs are stolen or accidentally sent to the wrong location," said Appadurai. 

The label and packaging digital solutions offers HP Indigo customers the tools to efficiently produce functional, versatile and affordable smart labels and packaging for use in anti-counterfeiting processes and supply-chain management operations, particularly in pharmaceutical pedigree label and packaging environments requiring full serialization. While the obvious lesson is to ensure that you buy from reputable sources with a supply chain that can be readily verified, counterfeiting presents HP Indigo press users with a unique opportunity to combat this crime while strengthening relationships with customers.

Apart from medicines, consumer products are prone to counterfeiting. Appadurai added: "Here too digital printing can help reduce counterfeiting to a great extent. For instance a French wine company Chateau Carignan along with HP and a label manufacturer decided to print three different security features possible on HP WS4500. This exercise reduced counterfeiting of wine labels to a great extent."

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