Q&A with Dr. Andrew Janoff, Chairman and CEO of Taaneh.
Q: One of the most significant deterrents to anti-counterfeiting measures is cost. What are some cost-effective strategies that can help the marketplace in the battle against counterfeit drugs?
Janoff: Counterfeiting now accounts for hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenues each year across multiple industries including pharmaceuticals, electronics, clothing, accessories, and foods. While some anti-counterfeiting technologies can be expensive, the cost is generally only a fraction of the revenue lost through counterfeiting. In the pharmaceutical sector, counterfeit products also carry a significant risk to the health and safety of consumers.
The key issue is whether these technologies provide the level of protection and product verification that manufacturers need. In terms of both costs and effectiveness, the use of an anti-counterfeiting technology based on the use of diamond powder has many advantages. Diamond powder is a safe and inexpensive substance that can be added directly to a drug’s formulation or labeling/packaging without interrupting most existing manufacturing processes. Diamond exhibits an array of unique characteristics when exposed to different wavelengths of light that are almost impossible to replicate. When diamond powder is added to both a drug and its packaging, its presence, confirming product authenticity, can be instantly identified with a handheld scanner at any point of production, even when a drug is separated from its packaging.
Q: It would seem that the use of diamond-based technology would be extremely expensive, what type of ROI does this technology provide?
Janoff: We primarily think of diamonds as the precious stones in jewelry, but those diamonds are actually only a small, carefully cultivated and refined percentage of all available diamond. For use in industrial purposes, diamond powder is a widely available cost-effective anti-counterfeiting option. As a result, the ROI in terms of investment in anti-counterfeiting technology based on diamond for manufacturers across multiple industries can be highly favorable.
Q: Which approach, both in general and specific to this diamond-based technology, do you advocate more highly—in terms of implementing anti-counterfeiting technology into the drug or vaccine itself or the packaging?
Janoff: It is crucial that modern anti-counterfeiting methods be able to confirm the authenticity of both a drug and its packaging at any stage as a product travels from manufacturer to consumer. To do this, it is essential to be able to confirm authenticity even when a product is separated from packaging. The most effective anti-counterfeiting technologies will be able to provide this level of authentication easily and cost-effectively. In the case of diamond, both packaging and product can be instantly authenticated using a hand-held scanner. The thousands of unique spectral images that are created by diamond are also almost impossible for counterfeiters to anticipate and replicate.
Q: On-line pharmacies have been a leading source of many counterfeit drug initiatives. Can the use of diamonds or other technologies have an impact in fighting against these on-line sources?
Janoff: By adding diamond powder to both the product and the package, we are aiming to cut down counterfeiting regardless of where drugs were purchased. Authenticity can be confirmed instantly with a simple handheld device at any stage in production. We can also envision this technology being developed in conjunction with smart phones enabling verification at the consumer level.
Q: Another complication of anti-counterfeiting strategies is how they can slow development and commercialization efforts. What thoughts can you offer in terms of keeping products safe without missing key timelines?
Janoff: A diamond-based authentication system can be implemented into most currently used manufacturing and packaging technologies, so the additional technology investment is likely to be minimal for most manufacturers. Diamond powder can be added directly into the formulation of most drugs with no impact on manufacturing processes. It can also be readily added to the inks used to print labels or packaging. Its presence can be confirmed even in trace amounts. As a result, the use of diamond in authentication is unlikely to affect manufacturing processes or timetables significantly.
Q: What do you feel will be the most impactful development in the drug counterfeiting scene, other than the implementation of diamond-based technologies, over the next 12-18 months?
Janoff: Counterfeiting will always be an evolving challenge, but the next big breakthroughs in anti-counterfeiting technologies will be those capable of confirming the authenticity of a drug even when it is separated from its packaging. Many current authentication methods such as serialization or color coding become ineffective once the drug is removed from its packaging.
With diamond powder authentication, the origin and authenticity of both the drug and packaging can be confirmed independently, which will be crucial to fighting counterfeiting in the years to come. We expect others to work to develop technologies that offer this advantage.
Q: Are there any other thoughts or observations relative to drug counterfeiting that you’d like to share?
Janoff: No single approach is foolproof. Criminals will always look for new ways to break through even the most advanced anti-counterfeiting technologies. Diamond offers the strongest available solution to the challenges in counterfeiting and the opportunity to address many of the limitations on currently used anti-counterfeiting technologies.