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Pharmaceutical Industry: 3 Specific Security Risks and How to Overcome Them

Pharmaceutical Industry

The pharmaceutical industry, which brings new drugs to improve the lives of billions worldwide every year, is a crucial asset to human life and the global economy. Thanks to globalization, technological advancements, and supply chain innovations, the pharmaceutical industry can now serve more people than ever. However, as the industry strives to eradicate and eliminate diseases around us, its security needs are also getting more complex.

From labs to manufacturing plants, pharmaceutical facilities all have a unique risk profile and certainly face specific security challenges. Once a product is outside a factory, it might be a lot more difficult to control what happens with them. Therefore, it’s important for pharmaceutical companies to control security risk where they can – on their sites and in their factories and offices.

Hereafter is a look at the most common security risks in the pharmaceutical industry, with some suggestions on how to reduce them.

Theft, Counterfeiting & Fraud

Pharmaceutical Industry; control
It’s important for pharmaceutical companies to control security risk where they can – on their sites and in their factories and offices.

Theft and counterfeiting are the top security concerns for most executives in the pharmaceutical industry, and they often go hand in hand. Theft can occur both physically and digitally and can come both from an insider or an outsider — as well as the collaboration and synergy of their work.

While cargo theft is the most common, this security threat can also manifest in other ways, such as a physical attack on a building or the leak of confidential information — which can be anything from healthcare data to sensitive research findings. Thus, counterfeiting can occur as a result of security breaches as such.

According to McKinsey, the loss due to counterfeit drugs is around USD 70 billion in revenue. More importantly, these counterfeit drugs devastate thousands of lives every year. International criminal organizations play the most prominent role in the manufacturing and selling of counterfeit medicines. However, some executives within pharmaceutical companies are also known to be involved in “pharma fraud” and engaging in illegal manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of drugs.

Shutting Down Opportunities for Security Breaches

Security risks faced by pharmaceutical companies are complex ones, and they require the involvement of international and governmental regulations and authorities. However, it’s the duty of any company within the sector to reduce and mitigate these risks. To begin with, in order to stay ahead of these threats, businesses must keep up-to-date with emerging technologies, by adopting a holistic and integrated security approach.

There is a flow of products coming from everywhere and going to everywhere, there are so many hubs

Aline Plançon, an Interpol officer, about counterfeit drugs.

Indeed, in a sector like pharmaceuticals where there’s a high-traffic flow of goods and individuals, access control solutions optimized for each company’s risk profile can ease the burden on security planners. A Harvard Kennedy School study further advocates for the screening and monitoring of staff to prevent insider theft and to restrict access to areas with sensitive information or material, as well as install video surveillance. 

How Can Pharmaceutical Companies Reduce On-Site Security Risks?

Pharmaceutical Companies; Turnstiles; Access Control
It’s imperative for pharmaceutical companies to control and manage access to their offices, labs, and factories.

The first step in reducing on-site security risks is to block unauthorized access to a facility’s grounds, known as perimeter security. The technologies applied in perimeter security include fences, barriers, guards, surveillance, physical authentication mechanisms, badges, biometric scanners, reception desks, security patrols, and gates — particularly, turnstiles.

It’s also imperative to guarantee a high level of security and control inside plants, through access control systems. The combination and integration of physical access control, video surveillance, and alarm systems allow for the optimal protection of a pharmaceutical company’s sensitive data. In addition, these solutions also contribute to data traceability in compliance with data integrity protocols for the pharmaceutical market, which is essential in production processes, laboratories, and research and development departments.

Protecting Your Business, Your Brand, and Global Health

Adopting the right strategies to limit physical security risks, pharmaceutical companies can safeguard sensitive research and development activities, as well as all their commercial secrets, while regulating access to specific zones within facilities. Beyond technology, joining membership organizations such as The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition and The Pharmaceutical Security Institute can help companies to foster a culture of security.

All in all, shutting down the opportunities for security breaches is poised to help the future-forward pharmaceutical leaders to protect their brand, reputation, profit, and global health.

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