Notoriously difficult to measure, the extent and effect of the counterfeit drug market are incontrovertibly widespread and problematic. With a staggering estimated death toll of between 100,000 and one million people every year.
Ultramatis, creators of a new anti-counterfeiting technology for pharmaceuticals, perfumes, and alcohols, explore the characteristics of a perfect solution and what’s available at the present time.
The ideal anti-counterfeiting technology should be completely infallible, unable to be cloned, have high product application and proven standards, be rapidly and easily authenticatable, be almost impossible to remove and reapply, and be legally compliant with the industries in question.
The main techniques fall into several basic groups, each with their benefits and drawbacks:
These are embedded on packaging or on the medication itself. They must be of exceeding quality to avoid tampering.
A barrier which provides evidence of having been breached, like breakable caps, tape seals, blister packs, and film wrappers. These have been successfully counterfeited by determined or knowledgeable criminals.
Holograms can be a fairly effective anti-counterfeiting approach, using a variety of measures for proven and traceable authentication. However, they have been found to be widely counterfeited and thus provide little assurance of genuine authenticity.
This allots an identity to each stock unit to allow it to be tracked from manufacture to sale, ensuring its correct passage through the system to the buyer.
Ultramatis Ltd have combined several of these techniques to create an approach that may just be the solution to the problem of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Their ultrafast laser plasma implantation process uses cutting edge technology to transform a target material into an ion-rich plasma that implants into the surface of glass packaging.
The client can choose whether the unique optical fingerprint is visible or covert, and the design, when scanned, yields chosen product information to allow the product to be identified and tracked. Impossible to remove or duplicate, this technology is a ground breaking step forward in the fight against fake pharmaceuticals.
Ultramatis uses Technology and ULPI to create a unique optical fingerprint in the surface of glass packaging. This fingerprint is simply used as a ‘shape’ but also through subtle changes in the optical properties of the marker, for example, slight shifts in colour. These properties can be tuned, much like mixing red and blue paint will give purple, but change the mixture slightly and the exact colour will change. This simplistic effect we consider the first security/authenticity level of our technology, beyond it, there are several other distinct components of the marker that can be engineered and tuned to a specific level. Thus providing a wide array of security features to ensure the uniqueness of a product. These markers are permanent in the glass surface and do not hinder the recyclability of the glass. Which is essential for the glass business as it uses considerable amounts of recycled glass in new bottles. The markers can therefore be used to detect if a bottle has been reused illegally, i.e. as a counterfeit, or if it is a new, genuine product. The specific optical signature of the marker can be translated into a code, used to define a specific product. They can therefore be used in a centralised database to track products across the supply chain or identify them after, for example by trading standards or a retailer. This makes the Ultramatis technology very unique, where other anti-counterfeiting technology commonly use well known technologies. Making them susceptible to counterfeiting due to the availability of the equipment and know-how needed to apply it.
Ultramatis markers are thus designed to function like a retina scan on a human eye, but for a glass bottle.
Where a produced bottle has a highly unique signature that is fixed for the lifetime of the bottle. So once the bottle has been sold, it is recorded as such and hence, should it be detected again, it is immediately detected as counterfeit. Ultramatis aim to apply this technology to help secure products in the alcohol, pharmaceutical and fragrance markets as well as others that use glass packaging, or glass material, for example automotive and aerospace.
To learn more about Ultramatis’ contribution to the anti-counterfeit effort, and about their highly trained and expert team of engineers and scientists, contact them on +44 (0) 845 094 1503 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for individual queries, which are always welcome.