NORTH READING (CBS) --Counterfeit prescription drugs are costing billions of dollars and killing hundreds of thousands of patients every year.
Around the world, 7 to 10 percent of all prescription drugs are counterfeit. On top of that, are these shocking numbers:
"If you go to certain parts of the world in emerging markets, you've got 30 to 40 percent of prescription drugs being counterfeit," Shabbir Dahod, CEO of Tracelink, says.
And in the U.S.:
"Nobody knows for certain," Dahod says. "There are estimates that 1 to 3 percent of prescription drugs in the U.S. are counterfeit, and when they're counterfeit they have no active ingredient."
Tracelink has a front row seat to this phenomenon. It helps pharmaceutical companies prevent phony drugs from getting to patients. And you won't believe where counterfeit drugs get their start.
"A counterfeit manufacturer will create whatever the facsimile is to the drug in what you may call a manufacturing facility, but it looks more like a garage," Dahod adds.
This is big business. The World Health Organization says it costs authentic drug makers $75 billion a year in lost revenue.
"They find a way to sell it into the legal supply chain," Dahod says. "They will find wholesalers or pharmacies that may purchase those drugs, and they may actually themselves be a wholesaler or have relationships with wholesalers that they sell to."
And serious diseases are not immune from their reach.
"Cancer drugs, heart medicine, e-d drugs, generics. All classes of drugs have been counterfeited," Dahod says.
By this time next year, though, things will be different in the U.S. when all prescription drugs will require a unique serial number. By 2020, all pharmacies will be required to stock only products with a serial number, but that may not be enough.
"Counterfeiting will never go away," Dahod says. "We just make it less and less profitable for them."
Tracelink's cloud-based platform allows any company in the supply chain to track and trace its goods. Investors like the sound of that, recently pouring $52 million of new funding into the company.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Jeff Brown reports
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