The battle against counterfeiters - Pfizer makes a bold move

Since the introduction of the little blue pill in 1998, Pfizer has waged an online battle with the cyber criminals to prevent illegal sales of Viagra. The pill, seen as much as a lifestyle choice as well as a drug to treat a medical condition, was soon counterfeited after its launch, and has been appearing as the subject line within our email in-boxes ever since.

Sex sells, simple as that. So Pfizer has decided to go down the “if you can’t beat them, join them” route by selling the prescription drug online (using the domain name registered in 1997).  The drug will sell for significantly more than you can reputedly find it online already, but this one comes with a guarantee of authenticity.

The term “Viagra” is searched for 24 million times per year so it is no wonder the business of counterfeit pharmacies is still big business.  In a study in 2011, Pfizer analyzed pills bought from 22 websites that claimed to be selling “Pfizer’s Viagra”.  Their results were disturbing.  80% of pills were counterfeit; some were found to include paint, pesticide and printer ink.

Whilst an online brand protection strategy can help a business identify where its products are being counterfeited, it can be a long and difficult process to eradicate the problem completely.

Pfizer’s move is a bold one, essentially going head to head with the cyber criminals, but one that will enable them to regain some of the lost online traffic that was being diverted away from their products previously.

Winning the online battle against counterfeiters is no easy task but brands that not only implement a strong online brand protection strategy to  protect online reputations, but also protects their consumers from serious  health risks through such strategies have to be commended, compared to  those organizations that simply turns a blind eye.

Stuart Fuller, Director of Communications, NetNames

8 May 2013