Every year, thousands of “fake” drugs enter the U.S. market via websites that attract consumers by marketing “No Prescriptions Necessary” and competitive pricing. These pharmaceuticals are manufactured overseas and then labeled as brand name products.

A recent blogger from “The Hill” commented on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program about this topic in saying that “the program depicted consumers purchasing counterfeit medicines packaged in convincingly labeled bottles and imprinted with an authentic looking brand name like Pfizer or Baxter. In some cases the pills contained floor paint, sugar, and wax.”

It is critical to think about the risks involved when purchasing goods or services from any supplier, whether overseas or within the U.S. What are your needs and expectations, and what are you actually getting in return? Tamara Ward, a public affairs specialist for the Food and Drug Administration, provides some guidelines when purchasing drugs:

“No. 1: Purchase drugs from a state-licensed pharmacy. “

“No. 2: Steer clear of the phone. Ordering drugs over the phone opens consumers up to even more risk.”

“No 3: Take note of changes. If your drug looks like it has been tampered with, or has a different taste, smell or packaging than it has in the past, don’t take it.”

This story; http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2011/03/14/counterfeiters-making-fake-pharmaceuticals/, reminded me of the overall risk involved when considering a new supply base. Counterfeit drugs can negatively impact a consumer’s health and high risk suppliers can do the same for an organization’s financial health. Just as Ward offers up some guidelines to follow when purchasing medications, here are some procurement best practices that should be carried out in every sourcing initiative:

1.Look for credible vendors who are financially stable. This may include reference checks, ability to meet requested specifications and requirements, reporting capabilities, site visits, etc…

2.If you receive email advertisements, check the suffix…gmail, hotmail, and yahoo accounts can be scam deals or small non-professional organizations. If the email infrastructure has not been developed, what does this say about the company’s overall capabilities?

3.Test out products / services – Before agreeing to contract with a supplier or begin using their services, it is very common to test a product, look at samples of items, or have a trial service run. For example, when considering a new printer for marketing materials, ask for samples of artwork before going to print.

What it really boils down to is knowing your supply base. Supplier interviews, reference checks, online reviews, word of mouth are all good ways to test the waters. Remember you would not put something in your body that was poison so why do it to your business.
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Leigh Merz

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