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Fake Pharma: How XenTag can solve the underground drug market

According to a report published by the National Library of Medicine, 35 of the largest pharmaceutical companies worldwide accounted for a collective revenue of 11.5 trillion USD, a gross profit of 8.6 trillion USD, from 2000 to 2018.

These numbers speak to the massive profitability of “Big Pharma” over the last two decades, but the sometimes-prohibitive cost of pharmaceuticals has also created ideal conditions for a thriving underground market, and business is good.


Fake Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceuticals are the 10th most counterfeited products in all international trade. In 2016 alone, the international trade in fake pharma products had reached over 4.4 billion USD in sales. Even today, these figures show no sign of slowing down.

Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are produced and sold exclusively with the intent of profit over cure. Fake drugs do not contain any type of specific composition, either in ingredients or in quantity. Often, these drugs use substitute ingredients with contaminants that can cause allergic reactions, illness, and even death.


The Fake Pharmaceutical Epidemic

According to the Economist, a 2011 survey by the World Health Organization found that over 64% of drugs used to treat malaria were fake. The consequences and adverse effects of the widespread counterfeit drug market are most felt in African nations and developing countries in South America and Asia. Unfortunately, the origin of these fake drugs can also be traced back to these countries.

Each year, more than 200,000 deaths can be traced back to counterfeit drugs. These statistics aren’t relegated to third-world countries with lax health healthcare systems. In 2012, tainted steroids killed 11 people in Boston. In the same year, it was discovered that vials of Avastin, a cancer treatment, lacked any active ingredients at all.


Impact on Legitimate Pharmaceutical Companies

Not only are counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs the direct cause of numerous deaths each year, but they also lead to loss of sales and damaged reputations of legitimate pharmaceutical companies. Those companies registered in the United States are the hardest hit by this underground trade.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that in most developing countries, the ratio of counterfeit or substandard drugs is 1 in every 10 drugs that are sold. By current estimation, this is equivalent to $30 billion USD in losses each year.


Countering Underground Pharma

According to a BBC news report, the journalist reported that the fake pharma industry is booming in West Africa, even more so following the Covid pandemic. Deeper research on this flourishing underground market revealed a highly sophisticated criminal network with powerful underground connections.

The FDA, in coalition with WHO and various other international bodies and governments, have been trying to protect the public from counterfeit drugs. Though there have been great strides in exposing these perpetrators and their network, the criminal syndicates that pull the strings remain largely untraceable.


How Can XenTag Help?

One solution that can help identify and verify the legitimacy of pharmaceutical products is XenTag.

XenTag is a small, pre-programmed RFID/NFC tag that is embedded in your product. The tag will help you track and evaluate your pharmaceuticals, and more importantly allow your consumers to check the authenticity of the product.

With XenTag, you can digitize your pharmaceuticals on a public blockchain. The tag technology allows you to track and trace the trajectory of your product at every point in the supply chain. When your shipment reaches the end user, they can quickly and easily authenticate with the help of the corresponding XenTag app on their mobile device.

XenTag also comes with a tamper-proof configuration which helps determine if the product has been mishandled in any way, ensuring that your products stay safe until they reach your customers.



XenTag offers an advanced yet simple way to guard against fake pharmaceuticals. In time, digital tagging may become so widespread that it eliminates the underground pharma market, decreases death and illness and protects your pharmaceutical brand.

Reach out to one of our consultants today to see how XenTag can work for you.