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Counterfeit sanitisers, PPE kits, other essentials on rise amid COVID-19 crisis

BusinessToday.In     June 11, 2021

The market is not only flooded with cheap copies of high-end luxury goods but also day-to-day products and COVID-related essentials. Counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products like PPE kits, COVID-19 medications, and sanitisers rose sharply during the COVID-19 lockdown as per an Authentication Solution Providers' Association (ASPA) report titled 'The State of Counterfeiting in India- 2021'.

Increase in counterfeiting, black marketing, and diversion of medicines and other essential medical items have made life difficult for medical professionals who are already exhausted due to manpower shortage.

Sectors like alcohol, tobacco, FMCG packaged goods, currency, and pharmaceuticals have been impacted the most by counterfeiting. These sectors together comprise 84 per cent of total counterfeiting cases reported as per ASPA. Tobacco products among the rest saw the highest rise in counterfeiting in 2020 versus 2019 and 2018, the anti-counterfeiting body said.

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"According to the report, counterfeiting incidents have risen rapidly/steadily in the last few years. On average, the increase in counterfeiting incidents being reported in the last 3 years has been 20 per cent (from January 2018 to December 2020)," it noted. States like Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal need urgent attention w.r.t counterfeit incidents.

The report further mentioned counterfeiters are infiltrating the market with fake, sub-standard, and often dangerous products by taking advantage of the high demand for products like medicines, health supplements, safety products, hygiene products and other essentials due to the COVID crisis.

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Unassuming customers are unable to figure out whether they've purchased an original or a counterfeit product as professional impostors employ the latest manufacturing and printing technologies for duplicating finishes, print boxes, labels, codes, and packaging that imitates genuine products perfectly.

ASPA President Nakul Pasricha warned about the impact of counterfeiting on India's economic recovery. "A big challenge is that counterfeiters are becoming smarter, better funded, and organised. In this scenario, the onus on all impacted parties to stay ahead of them is even more critical," Pasricha said.

He added fraudsters are also taking advantage of the pandemic and said, "The trends we observe are alarming and call for immediate action".

Edited by Mehak Agarwal

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