AUSTRIA • Counterfeit pharmaceutical and food products put consumers’ health and the identity of brands at risk. To rule out such counterfeits, packaging manufacturer Constantia Flexibles offers innovative packaging solutions to meet this crucial task.
Only original drugs save lives
In regions such as Africa and Asia, up to 30% of all pharmaceutical products are counterfeit and product piracy affects even food producers. “Counterfeit products of every description can be detrimental to health,” explains Alexander Baumgartner, CEO of Constantia Flexibles, “It goes without saying that product counterfeiting and the related impact on health also lead to a loss of confidence in the original brand. Therefore, Anti-counterfeiting is becoming ever more important to protect consumers and companies.”
However, counterfeit pharmaceuticals are also particularly prevalent in developing countries. The United Nations office on drugs and crime (UNODC) estimates that the market value of counterfeit antimalarial medicines in West Africa alone is over EUR 300 million, for example. In Southeast Asia, around 36% of antimalarial drugs are counterfeits containing chalk or detergents instead of active ingredients to help combat the disease.
As tablets are frequently sold without secondary packaging in developing countries, clearly identifiable, distinctive primary packaging is particularly important. For this reason, in addition to protected security features, Constantia Flexibles has developed sophisticated design features and other technologies that enable customers to distinguish between real and counterfeit medicines.
Food as fake-proof as bank notes
It is not just pharmaceuticals but also food that has long been affected by counterfeits, however. According to media reports, in April 2017 Europol and Interpol confiscated counterfeit food to a value of around EUR 230 million in a sweeping pan-European operation. Overall, the investigators carried out inspections in over 60 countries, including 21 EU member states. Police, customs officials, and food authorities seized nearly 10,000 metric tons of food and 26 million liters of beverages between December 2016 and March 2017. This is not an isolated case; Arndt Sinn, professor of criminal law at the University of Osnabrück in Germany, puts the damage caused by counterfeit products at around EUR 400 billion per year.
Constantia Flexibles therefore counteracts food counterfeiting by providing special packaging solutions that are as fake-proof as bank notes. For example, the Constantia Hueck site is the only food packaging production facility in Europe to be accredited by the IHMA – the International Hologram Manufacturing Association – and is therefore also able to manufacture security features for bank notes. As a member of the IHMA, Constantia Flexibles is also authorized to have certain features protected for each individual customer. This prevents identical security features from being molded by another company and integrated into packaging.
Technologies for protecting consumers and brands
For the patented security features of its packaging solutions, Constantia Flexibles often employs technologies that are unusual in this form in packaging production. Special laser technology and security graphics software are needed to produce design elements with guilloche modules – a pattern comprising several interlaced, overlapping polylines – as well as relief modules and grids. Other complex print designs and unique optical effects that are achieved with colour-shifting inks, among other things, protect branded products from being counterfeited.
Further protection is provided by an aluminum foil tailored to the brand, with the logo and various security features integrated into the surface of the foil, for instance. These features cannot be removed without damaging the material. The special detachable lid foil from Constantia Flexibles is also damaged when the product is opened.