Spike in counterfeiting of PPE kits, sanitisers during COVID lockdown: Report

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New Delhi, Jun 10 (PTI) The COVID-19 lockdown witnessed a sharp spike in counterfeiting incidents in pharmaceutical products, especially PPE kits and sanitisers, as per a report by industry body ASPA.

Counterfeiting incidents in India have risen 'rapidly” in the last few years, with a 20 per cent growth from January 2018 to December 2020, the Authentication Solution Providers' Association (ASPA) said.

The top five sectors which have been most affected by counterfeiting are -- alcohol, tobacco, FMCG packaged goods, currency and pharmaceuticals. They together constitute more than 84 per cent of the total counterfeiting incidents reported.

Within the last month, there have been a number of cases reported of fake COVID-19 medication.

'Counterfeiters are taking advantage of the high demand for medicines, health supplements, safety products, hygiene products and other essentials created due to the COVID crisis and contaminating the market by selling fake and sub-standard products,' said the report, titled 'The State of Counterfeiting in India - 2021'.

The pandemic has also shown that criminals quickly adapt to the new trade environment and find ways to infiltrate legitimate supply chains with duplicate and often dangerous products.

Professional fraudsters are now using the latest manufacturing and printing technologies to duplicate finishes, print boxes, labels, codes, and packaging that mimic genuine products perfectly, ASPA added.

The increasing incidents of frauds such as diversion, counterfeiting and black marketing of medicines and others essential items are further adding challenges for healthcare professionals already exhausted due to shortage of manpower, it added.

ASPA is a self-regulated industry body of anti-counterfeiting and traceability solutions providers. Its report studies and highlights the trends of counterfeiting incidents reported in India for the period January 2018 to December 2020.

'According to the report, counterfeiting incidents have risen rapidly /steadily in the last few years. On an average the increase in counterfeiting incidents being reported in the last 3 years has been 20 per cent (from January 2018 to December 2020),' it said.

Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Bihar, Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Odisha are the top 10 states which need urgent attention in respect to counterfeit incidents, the report added.

Tobacco products faced the highest jump in counterfeiting in 2020 over 2019 and 2018, it said.

Now counterfeiting activities are not limited to high-end luxury items but also extend to day to day products like cumin seeds, mustard cooking oil, ghee, hair oil, soaps, baby care items and medicines.

ASPA President Nakul Pasricha said counterfeit products and illicit trade would further slow down the Indian economy recovery.

'A big challenge is that counterfeiters are becoming smarter, better funded, and organized. In this scenario, the onus on all impacted parties to stay ahead of them is even more critical,' said Pasricha.

Counterfeiters are taking advantage of the pandemic, he said, adding, 'The trends we observe are alarming and call for immediate action.' PTI KRH ABM ABM

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