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Protecting Healthcare Workers from Counterfeit PPE

 

Crime has no moral code. If you have a high-demand product, people will likely counterfeit it. It
comes as no surprise that during this time of pandemic, counterfeiters are targeting everything
from hand sanitizer to COVID-19 test kits. I recently blogged about this situation here.

As the world’s healthcare systems work to test for new infections—and treat those already infected—there has been a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers. Sadly, the lack of ethics among counterfeiters has allowed them to exploit the financial opportunities created from this shortage. If you put “PPE shortage” into a search engine, dozens upon dozens of articles and news features will return, highlighting this critical issue:

FBI Warns Health Care Professionals of Increased Potential for Fraudulent Sales of COVID-19-Related Medical Equipment

The Dangers of Counterfeit Safety Products

N95 masks are in short supply — and scammers know it

This issue is twofold. First, we must keep counterfeit PPE from being used by healthcare professionals on the front lines. And second, we must ensure that authentic PPE is put in the hands of these heroes. Prior to this pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry introduced package-level serialization regulations in major geographies to help prevent counterfeiting and secure the supply chain. The medical device market has Unique Device Identification mandates, which are not as strong as serialization, but are intended to help protect products in the supply chain. Both serialization and UDI have significant gaps as anti-counterfeiting measures, but at least these industries have been working to address the issue.

PPE has no mandated security feature, labeling requirement or serialization element. I would advocate that a digital authentication solution be adopted by PPE manufacturers and distributors, so healthcare systems and/or individual practitioners can verify that equipment is legitimate before using it. Case verification and authentication would most likely be sufficient, given the volumes in play. Remember, counterfeiters can copy additive protections like holograms, seals, inks and other packaging features that easily pass for the real thing.

Systech recognizes the immediate need to protect our healthcare workers from counterfeit PPE. In response to this crisis, we’ve adapted our solutions to help manufacturers and major distributors quickly add a failproof layer of security to their PPE products. The program is being offered at a significant discount and can be up and running in weeks.

Let’s fight this together! Learn how to protect healthcare workers from counterfeit PPE.   

 

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