Pets, for most of us, are an integral part of our lives. Be it the cuteness of a pooch or the agility of a feline, the crisp in the twittering of birds or the calmness of fishes in the tank, the presence of pets in a household is tantamount to therapy that ushers in happiness and bliss.
We are all privy to the role pets play in any household, from helping to increase our physical activities, which has become vital especially with remote working setups, to helping us deal with anxiety issues and depressions, pets are the miraculous creatures that not only warm the cockles of our hearts, but also take the cudgel of keeping our health in place. While they help in keeping us healthy and fit, there are occasions in which we inadvertently put their lives at risk.
The Detrimental Effects of Counterfeit Medicine for Pets
Providing proper vaccination is a basic requirement when owning pets, followed by regular medication to ensure their health and hygiene. While we do so, many a times we are not fully aware of the doses that are administered to them. This can lead to ailments and even death of pets on some occasions. Counterfeited medication has evolved as one of the biggest threats to animal lives in modern times. Such products are not regulated and can contain different ingredients that may have passed their expiration date or may not even be medication in the first place. Counterfeited medicines which are designed to look identical to the original product can be ineffective or even toxic.
Causes of Increased Counterfeiting in the Veterinary Industry
Things have especially gone for a toss with the increase in online shopping since the pandemic hit the world. With online shopping sale soaring in the last two years, the issue of pet owners being duped into buying counterfeited pet medicines online is garnering attention. According to a survey by Veterinary Practice website,12% of pet owners said they believed they may have received fake pet medicines online. Research shows factors that raised suspicion in the mind of pet owners regarding counterfeiting of the product include the medicine exuding strange odour, some aggravating the illnesses of the pets, while others having a false expiry date.
Making most of e-commerce websites, illegal traders are often seen using real imagery and adverts to sell fake products at reduced prices, which at times end up luring pet owners who are not quite privy to the fact that they are being deceived. The illegal and black market of counterfeited and unregistered veterinary animal products is estimated to be a whopping 2 billion dollars industry and has become a major source of concern for pet owners. This market includes counterfeited and unregistered products as well as parallel imports that are not approved, compounded pharmaceuticals, and illegal autogenous vaccines.
Illegal Pet Medication Market and the Losses Faced by the Pharma Industry
The presence of this illegal market is not only jeopardizing the health and hygiene of animals but also posing a threat to the larger pharmaceutical industry. According to a report by the global animal medicines association, HealthForAnimals, the market is incurring an annual global loss to legitimate drug manufacturers of between 1 to 2 billion dollars annually, which comes to between 3 and 7 percent of revenues. Although a growing menace in both developing as well as, the developed worlds, the industry of counterfeited animal medication is very largely concentrated especially in the United States and the European Union. The association lays emphasis on the rise of e-commerce, international trade, and small parcel shipments as potential threat and reasons behind the growth of the counterfeited market. The operations of illegal internet pharmacies for veterinary medicines have opened new doors to this illegal markets.
Since the situation is getting increasingly alarming, checking such illegal trading has burgeoned into a big challenge for companies dealing in pet medication. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate, an executive agency for protecting animal health, has taken cognizance of the matter, and removed over 500 veterinary medicines listed at online marketplaces since April 2000.
Using Technology to Fight Counterfeiting
Having mentioned the increasing activities in the illegal pet medicine market, the expansion of different distribution channels and the threats such medication creates for animals, as well as humans, it would not be wrong to say pet owners can play a crucial role in tackling it and ensuring the health of their extended family members. There are different ways individuals counter such illegal activities, like the use of the A.W.A.R.E method. This includes asking the veterinarian before buying a particular drug online, watching for red flags if the online pharmacy is ready to provide medicines without prescriptions, checking the site in question for accreditation, reporting in case of any spurious activities, and educating oneself about online pet pharmacies.
Can Artificial Intelligence be a Game Changer?
New and advanced technologies can be used to help prevent pet owners from coming into contact with fake pet medicines. The advent of modern technology has given us easy access to information that can be used to deal with most of our problems from the comforts of our homes. One such technology is Artificial Intelligence (AI) which can be effectively used to deal with the global hazard of counterfeiting.
Cypheme is an AI company that acknowledges the importance of access to amenities such as safe and verified products. The company focuses on designing anti-counterfeit solutions that can ensure brand protection and product security. It provides the best AI Fingerprint Technology that helps in getting rid of counterfeiting and protecting brands. Powered by an artificial neural network, the Cypheme anti-counterfeit technology is full-proof and provides a permanent solution to check fake products.
It is therefore imperative that pet focused pharma companies take proactive steps to make use of advanced tech like those from Cypheme to help weed out fake and sub-standard imitations of their products, to help safeguard the lives of pets, and protect their own markets.