Securing the Life Line

Abstract

Six million counterfeit cosmetics/personal care products and 1.2 million foodstuffs and beverage products were seized at the European Union (EU) border in 2007. In addition, counterfeit medicines had 2.7 million products stopped at the border. Stateside, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of International Trade announced that the domestic value of counterfeit and pirated products seized by CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) increased by 2.7 percent in mid-fiscal year 2008 over 2007.

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And, according to Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff, “failure to protect intellectual property rights costs the US economy $200-250 billion a year.” That is a staggering impact to the global economy. And hidden behind the economic numbers are the tragedies of losslost lives, sickness, jobs, and innovation. What is causing this huge increase?

Globally, major enterprises have sought low-cost country sourcing as a major strategy. For example, as of 2008, 460 of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies have operations in China. These firms market in China, and also ship directly to US distributors and retailers. India expects their drug manufacturing presence on a global basis—mostly manufacturing the US and EU pharmaceutical patents—to grow to 50B, becoming 11% of the total world drug supply by 2011. This could be a concern, although 86% of the customs seizures are from Chinese sources today.


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