The Rise of Fake Medical Devices

The counterfeiting market has spread into the pharmaceutical and medical industry, we now have an epidemic on our hands.

Imagine your teenage son or daughter’s braces were toxic. Imagine an elderly relative’s replacement aortic valve was defective. These are very real risks in the medical device industry, particularly in Asia, and serve as a tangible demonstration of the level of exploitation and sophistication of counterfeiters.

Consider the following real-life examples.

Fake Dental Devices

The dental industry is facing huge challenges to make sure the devices they use are provided by reputable, trustworthy suppliers due to fake dental devices made in Asia. In the UK, dentists have been urged to make sure of the legitimacy of a broad range of products, from drills to x-ray machines and air turbines. Many of these products are purchased on websites such as Amazon and eBay, often at prices well below market value.

Fake braces are also becoming a real issue of concern, especially in Asia where they are something of a quirky trend. Often made from earring backs, they are available online and even at markets. A number of teenagers have been made ill and even killed by infections caused by the lead wiring.

Fake Surgical Devices

In the past 6 years, private and government bodies in the UK and USA have been forced into recalling an array of surgical devices including surgical clip cartridges, surgical mesh and even counterfeit thermometers. In Taiwan, 13,000 plates and screws were discovered to be fake, affecting 100 hospitals in the region. A similar problem involving spinal screw implants was uncovered in Los Angeles in 2014, resulting in almost 30 lawsuits.

Substandard Aortic Pumps

$7 million worth of intra-aortic pumps had to be recalled after defective components were found to be fake. It’s a clear example that while the product itself might seem genuine, key component parts have been counterfeited and the medical device becomes more susceptible to malfunction.

Urgent action is needed

Over 8% of medical devices in circulation are fake and only 20% of countries have strict regulations to prevent the development and spread of counterfeit medical products.

Counterfeit medical devices are endangering consumer safety and public heath. These devices are causing significant brand damage and eroding the public’s trust in the medical industry. What with the trade in counterfeit goods being tipped to outgrow industry growth, the market will soon be severely flooded with fake, defective and dangerous medical devices.

It’s imperative that counterfeit medical devices are detected long before they’ve made their way into the consumer market. Manufacturers, suppliers and practitioners themselves must take measures to ensure more effective detection of fake products. On detecting these counterfeit devices, a more efficient response is needed when they are found in order to remove them from the market.

SMCS Risk offers brand protection services in emerging and established markets in South East Asia. Contact us today if you have concerns about counterfeiting and grey-market supply in your company.