Case Study:  Anti-Counterfeiting


A leading pharmaceutical manufacturer was concerned that a substantial amount of “its products” were being offered and sold over the Internet.  Our client faced 2 important issues: consumer safety and lost revenues.  Many factors were unknown such as whether product sold over the Internet was genuine or counterfeit and also importantly, where it was manufactured, how it was distributed, sold and delivered.  Answering these questions was essential to addressing the threat. 


Our team evaluated two main uses of the Internet to solicit customers for unapproved product: business-to-business forums and on-line pharmacies.  The client was investigating both routes across a wide geographic area and had generated much information though little had been analyzed.  Bellwether evaluated the client’s investigative capability around the world and analyzed all the data available.  A number of independent consultants were also interviewed and their input factored into developing an effective solution. It was important that the solution be jointly developed with the key practice leaders so all would have equity in it and feel committed to its success through common ownership.

Analysis & Results

The initiative was challenging due to the difficulties associated with coordinating a global investigation through multiple regional security groups. Manufacturing, distribution and fulfillment of unauthorized product occurred differently depending on the country involved.  By centralizing and conforming all the data, activity maps could be created and used to link the different entities involved in each illicit supply chain.  The problem, and therefore, the solution would be different in each region as the nature of the unauthorized products offered depended on the socio-economic characteristics of each country and, consequently, the amount of counterfeit product sold over the Internet differed considerably in each market.

Benefits to Client

Bellwether’s facilitation of a series of working sessions following its own analysis of the situation led to a number of very productive meetings with the client’s practice leaders.  A comprehensive, global strategy was developed to follow the flow of unauthorized product from its source to the consumer and to work illicit supply chains simultaneously in both directions in support of both criminal and civil actions.  A regionally integrated program was designed and implemented with common ownership by all involved.  Communication and cooperation increased substantially and within a short period of time, our client was reporting its best results ever and far surpassing its original targets.  The businesses corroborated this success with numerous examples where sales and market share had increased.