Oncology drugs in the crosshairs of pharmaceutical crime

Oncology drugs clearly have become a target for pharmaceutical crime. In 2016, falsified oncology drugs ranked fifth in the most commonly falsified drug category among the reports received by the Pharmaceutical Security Institute. Although the prevalence of illicit oncology drugs in the legal supply chains appears to be small, these drugs are difficult to detect, particularly in clinical practice. Forthcoming countermeasures to detect illicit drugs in high-income countries include compulsory antitampering devices and product verification technology for a risk-based selection of medicines. Health-care professionals must implement these new procedures into their workflow and remain vigilant about those medicines that are not selected. Although countermeasures should firmly tighten supply chain security, there are concerns about how quickly pharmaceutical crime will adapt to these protections. Because patients and health-care professionals have shown a lenient attitude towards purchasing medicines from unreliable sources, measures against the highly accessible illegal medicine supply chain remain necessary. To improve detectability in clinical practice, reporting of ineffectiveness and unusual drug effects as adverse events or adverse drug reactions is essential.