Case study

How AstraZeneca Protects Patients & Suppliers from Impersonation Scams and Falsified Medicines

  • Brand Protection

Safeguarding global patients

Dimeji Okewole is the Head of Assurance Services, a global team responsible for ensuring and assuring AstraZeneca’s global footprint across web, social and mobile.

“Our responsibility is to ensure that patients across the globe have access to our medicine – genuine medicine. The issue that we face is the trafficking of counterfeit products,” states Dimeji.

“Our objective is to find and shut down illegal activities and outlets of our drugs, to ultimately protect our patients.”

Dimeji says, “you can mention protecting IP, our visibility in the marketplace – and those things are of course supremely important – but at its core is patient safety.”

Evolving online threats

As AstraZeneca’s patients and consumers continue to move online, they are faced with countless illicit websites, social pages, and social profiles.

Seemingly legitimate and authentic – Dimeji says, “The bad guys out there are getting more and more sophisticated with their web presence. Our goal is to shut them down.”

AstraZeneca’s previous approach to brand protection

“Previously, AstraZeneca’s brand protection process was based on an internally developed tool that scanned different indexing outlets, such as Google, Baidu, and Yandex. And it was relatively successful. In fact, one of our biggest successes was the take down of almost $2 million worth of counterfeit drugs four or five years ago.”

“But we recognized that even with that process, we were missing out by not having access to a host of other information. It was time to bring in an industry leading vendor to aid in our brand protection initiative.”

Finding a brand protection partner

“A number of things were important to me when it came to vendor selection. Of course, the cost. But cost was really not the best place to start because you can’t put a number on taking down websites when you’re protecting people’s lives.”

“We looked at several different vendors and chose Corsearch for three main reasons: 1) the ease of use of the platform; 2) the account management; 3) and access to the analyst team.”

“That was key because we leverage the Corsearch analysts on a day-to-day basis, to help tweak the system to make it deliver the data that we need. We were no longer interested in looking at terabytes of data. Instead we were interested in looking at what was of most value to us as an organization. What could we take down quickly? How could we both protect our patients and have the most impact in the market?”

“I initially planned to assign two individuals at AstraZeneca to manage the platform. The platform is so simple that I only have one individual running the show.”

How has AstraZeneca’s brand protection program evolved since working with Corsearch

“Once we had a vendor in place, we recognized that we needed an internal partner who had the resources to actually be in the market. And that’s when we brought in our AstraZeneca Global Security team. In partnership, the three entities: Assurance Services, Global Security, and Corsearch – have been extremely successful in delivering on our brand protection needs across the enterprise.”

Dedicated support from proactive analysts

In the past, AstraZeneca’s brand protection program required Dimeji’s hands on attention. “Since we brought in Corsearch, stood up the platform, and established our processes, we’ve had an amazing, forensic analyst team at our fingertips,” states Dimeji.

“I am quite light touch with the program, and in some instances, I don’t need to oversee anything – I don’t need to because Corsearch is on top of things. They’re highlighting and identifying things to us that we need to act on immediately. And that’s what we need from a vendor partner.”

Comprehensive monitoring of AstraZeneca’s digital footprint

“We are able to monitor all of AstraZeneca’s digital footprint because of the type of information and service that Corsearch can provide. We monitor our online presence: what’s being heard, what’s being said, but also how the bad actors are reacting to that and potentially standing up their own counter presence to AstraZeneca.”

Enhanced protection of AstraZeneca’s product launches

Dimeji says, “One of the biggest benefits for me is the fact that I’ve been able to move from the tactical engagement of brand protection to be more strategic. I’m able to think beyond the day-to-day and think the tomorrow, the two years, five years down the line.”

“Before products go out the door, we are now in a position to prepare for what they might be facing in the marketplace. We never had access to the type of information needed to enable us before and we do now.”

What has AstraZeneca achieved with Corsearch as its partner

Dimeji’s team are looking to eclipse its $2 million take down activities that were achieved before working with Corsearch.

“$2 million a year is just a drop in the ocean,” Dimeji shares. “We’re looking to do 10 times that – 20, 50, 100 million.”

“Through our partnership with Corsearch, we are already taking down 50 to 60 replica and phishing websites a month that try to defraud our suppliers and the public. This leads to tens of millions of dollars each quarter in cost and risk avoidance for AstraZeneca.”

Ultimately, what the numbers demonstrate is the vastness of illicit operations that we are addressing. This directly contributes to patient safety.

Why AstraZeneca recommends Corsearch

Dimeji states, “When I have an issue, when I have a concern, when I have a program, when I have a project, I’m thinking vendor, but what I need is a partner. And Corsearch really ticks the box.”

“I don’t want a vendor to come in and just do what I say, because I may not have all the answers. In fact, I know I don’t have all the answers. I need a partner to come in and walk with us and teach us, educate us, and also do what we say in some instances, but really help us plot a path forward for whatever the need and whatever the initiative is.”

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