Pharmaceutical Industry

Counterfeit drugs cost legitimate companies billions—and endanger consumer health

As a largely unregulated channel which also provides anonymity, the Internet is ideal for the illegal distribution of finished drugs and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs). According to the World Health Organization over half of the drugs purchased from illicit websites are fake. There is also a thriving trade in bulk pills and APIs—the MarkMonitor Summer 2009 Brandjacking Index® finding that branded drugs sold through B2B exchanges were up 23% year-over-year, and APIs have increased by a staggering 80%.

Ironically, every advertising dollar spent to build legitimate brands also helps the counterfeiters, who exploit legitimate brand power to sell fake or grey market drugs. Understandably confused, consumers buy from the counterfeiters in increasing numbers, diverting billions in revenues from legitimate brandholders and increasing the threats of consumer harm and drug company liability.

To regain control of a complex, global drug supply chain, reclaim lost revenues and fight this deadly serious health threat, pharmaceutical manufacturers must take proactive action against fake and unauthorized online pharmacies. MarkMonitor® can help.

MarkMonitor at Work

A top-50 pharmaceutical company with dozens of leading brands in more than 140 countries combats counterfeit and grey market drug sales, domain naming abuses, consumer confusion and liability risks by using MarkMonitor Domain Management and the MarkMonitor Brand Protection™ solution.


Optimizing domains while taking action against illicit sites
protects consumers, reputation and revenue.

How MarkMonitor Protects Content, Consumers and Revenues

  • Shuts down counterfeit drug sales and stops diversion of revenue from the rightful brand owner
  • Detects and responds to grey market selling on trade boards, online pharmacies and in bulk email to enable enhanced control over distribution chains
  • Identifies and shuts down spam and search marketing schemes which can confuse customers and lure them to illicit sites
  • Warns consumers away from illicit and dangerous drugs online to increase consumer safety, trust and confidence


  • 90% decrease in counterfeit B2B tradeboard listings, enabling the company to stop further diversion of significant revenues
  • 200 de-listings of counterfeit bulk APIs from tradeboards, yielding a predictable, more cost-effective supply chain
  • 67% decrease in squatted/abusive sites and the traffic they attract, resulting in higher revenues and reduced consumer confusion
  • Over 15,000 unnecessary domains eliminated through domain portfolio consolidation, reducing registration and management costs
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