The Covid-19 Pandemic, a Lucrative Market for Counterfeit Health Products
The Covid-19 pandemic has unfortunately opened greater opportunities for counterfeiters to generate fast cash. INTERPOL reported that they have seized more than 34,000 counterfeit and substandard masks, as well as “corona sprays”, “coronavirus packages” or “coronavirus medicines” under Operation Pangea XIII. The police, customs and health regulatory authorities from 90 countries partook part in this collective action against the illicit online sale of medicines and medical products. However, this seizure is only the tip of the iceberg.
Counterfeit health products in Indonesia
In Indonesia, the outbreak has sparked panic buying and hoarding for health products – such as surgical facemasks and hand sanitizers. As a result, shortages and skyrocketing prices are unavoidable in the midst of rising demand.
The situation has benefited counterfeiters to sell their illicit products. At the end of February 2020, the police raided an illegal facemask factory and warehouse in Cakung, North Jakarta. The factory could profit up to 250 million Rupiah from selling their illegal products (MetroTVNews 2/3/20). Another raid was conducted on a warehouse in Tangerang and resulted in the seizure of 600,000 illegal facemasks (Asiatimes, 4/3/20). These counterfeiters distributed and sold counterfeit facemasks that did not meet health standards through online and offline markets.
The circulation of counterfeit health products has caused greater health concerns to consumers in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak when the public’s health requires prime attention. Not only are these counterfeits detrimental for consumers, but they also generate bad impacts on the brand.
The countless raids do not seem to be able to stop the distribution of counterfeit health products. Quoting from mClinica, the lack of monitoring of the supply chain is a contributing factor of why the counterfeit issue has never been solved. Monitoring a company’s supply chain is complicated to begin with and it is getting even more so due to the involvement of e-commerce. Therefore, it requires collaborations between brand owners, manufacturers, the government, law enforcement, e-commerce, and related organizations to monitor the supply chain.
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