Pharmaceutical Fraud and Counterfeiting – Finding a Deep Web Solution

A recent Business Week article titled “Inside Pfizer’s Fight Against Counterfeit Drugs” talks about how big the pharmaceutical fraud and counterfeiting problem is. “According to company data, in 2010 authorities from53 countries seized 8.4 million tablets, capsules, and vials of counterfeit Pfizer drugs” (Business Week, Pg. 2). The problem is huge and not only costs the industry billions of dollars yearly, but also puts the lives of purchasers of the fraudulent drugs at risk.

According to U.S. Customs, pharmaceuticals are the third most counterfeited product behind electronics and shoes. Big Data from the Deep Web can help find and stop these counterfeiters. Read more to discover how Big Data from the Deep Web helped a Fortune 100 company find counterfeiters.



A Fortune 100 company in a high-margin industry was hemorrhaging potential profits to overseas counterfeiters. These counterfeiters advertised brand name products at a fraction of the retail price on trade boards, fly-by-night websites, e-commerce site, message boards, and social media.

The company’s traditional strategy included hiring an external brand protection firm; however, this solution wasn’t scalable to the wide scope of the Internet, where legitimate profits were unknowingly being siphoned off by fraudulent websites.


BrightPlanet was tasked to implement a scalable process to automatically monitor the Internet for any mention of the company’s brand name products. Websites, message boards, trade boards, and social media are automatically monitored using BrightPlanet’s patented content harvesting technology.

BrightPlanet’s Deep Web Harvesting technology allows BrightPlanet to query directly into the search forms of websites to collect content that traditional collection technologies cannot collect. Think of an E-commerce site like e-bay. Ebay predicts that on average approximately 113 million products are listed on sale at any given point in time. Traditional data collection technologies like site crawling will be forced to crawl through each of those 113 million listings to find and capture the correct content.  However, BrightPlanet’s technology allows users to select multiple queries to automate the search form to only collect the necessary content for analysis.

Websites flagged for counterfeit activity are accumulated and sent to the company via customized weekly reports, which also contain extracted competitor product information, online price points, contact information, online chat services, e-commerce options, WhoIs data, etc.

Automated harvesting at the scale of the Internet reveals a whole new level of consciousness towards illegal online markets for the company, which could then target counterfeiters more thoroughly and accurately. This solution has potential for the pharmaceutical fraud and counterfeiting problem.


Have a counterfeiting or fraud problem in your business? Sign up to schedule a free consultation with one of our Deep Web Investigators to see if there is a solution for you.

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Source: International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition