COUNTERFEITS – THE BANE OF LEGITIMATE MANUFACTURERS
With the convenience of online payment platforms and the proliferation of sales transactions made over the Internet, how does one ensure that the product offered over an alternative distribution channel is genuine, and not counterfeit?
When counterfeit products are suspected to be in the market, the legitimate manufacturers would want to investigate and attempt to trace the source in order to protect their brand, intellectual property, market share and profits. When an alleged counterfeit product poses health or safety risks, relevant health and enforcement authorities would recall the product to protect public safety, and investigate without delay to establish the product’s authenticity and provenance.
Consumer products ranging from high-end branded goods such as handbags, expensive medication and health supplements, to mass produced commodities all face mounting challenges from skilled counterfeiters due to advancement in technology and the ease of access to manufacturing equipment. Counterfeiters are fully aware that poor knock-offs can be spotted from a mile, and have since invested heavily in their efforts to manufacture products that may escape even the sharpest eye. An array of scientific techniques is therefore required to establish the authenticity of a product, especially the high-quality counterfeits.
FORENSIC ANALYSIS OF COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS
Adopting a forensic approach for the analyses has proven to be effective in “singling” out counterfeit products as both the physical features and chemical fingerprints of the product in question are examined. This holistic framework investigates the authenticity of the packaging material, as well as the contents, and is particularly useful in cases where the outer packaging is genuine but the contents are counterfeited and vice versa.
For example, in cases involving counterfeit medicines or drugs,, traditional laboratories typically examine the amount of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) present in the medicine. However, unlike in the past where counterfeits were found with very little or no API, counterfeiters today are adding APIs to ensure efficacy and repeated business. Hence, finding the API and even the right amount of it does not signify that a product is genuine.
HOW CAN THE FORENSIC EXPERTS GROUP HELP YOU?
If you have concerns regarding the authenticity of your product, or suspect that you have received a batch of items that are not up to standards, please contact us for a consultation. As independent experts with years of experience using the forensic approach to analyse counterfeits, our forensic scientists are in a vantage position to provide professional advice and conduct forensic analysis on the suspicious products.
To find out more about the challenges in the analysis and interpretation of counterfeit medicines, read our article “Counterfeit Medicines” featured in the Feb 2017 issue of the Singapore Law Gazette.
If you require our assistance and expertise, please call 6459 0494 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Counterfeit Medicines – A Primer for Lawyers – Singapore law Gazette, Feb 2017
 Yong Yuk Lin, A. Plancon, Lau Yen Hui, D. M. Hostetler, F. M. Fernandez, D. G. Green, S. Sounvoravong, S. Nara, M. Boravann, T. Dumrong, N. Bangsawan, V.V. Tuc, Low Min Yong, Lim Chin Chin, R.L. Ai, P. Newton ‘Collaborative Health and Enforcement Operations on the Quality of Antimalarials and Antibiotics in Southeast Asia’ American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (April 2015).
 Lim Chin Chin, Yong Yuk Lin, Yang Chiew Yung, “Detection of Counterfeit Drugs – Singapore’s Approach” (2011), APEC Life Science Innovation Forum First Anti-Counterfeiting Health Products Seminar, Beijing, China.