Counterfeit cosmetics damaging brand reputations

-ANSA McAL’s Harper

ANSA McAL Trading is fearful that the reputation of brands of cosmetics that it distributes would be tarnished by the circulation of counterfeited products on the local market.

Managing Director of ANSA McAL Trading Beverly Harper told a press briefing on Tuesday that the brands—Head and Shoulders, Pantene Pro V and Olay Total Effects 7 in 1—would suffer long-term damage to their reputation if the fake products continue to be circulated.

“I worry that the brand is damaged and the people wouldn’t get the full use of the product,” she said.

(From left) Divisional Manager of Proctor and Gamble Nafeeza Chand, Managing Director of ANSA McAL Trading Beverly Harper and ANSA McAL Trading Public Relations Officer Darshanie Yussuf
(From left) Divisional Manager of Proctor and Gamble Nafeeza Chand, Managing Director of ANSA McAL Trading Beverly Harper and ANSA McAL Trading Public Relations Officer Darshanie Yussuf

Last week, the Govern-ment Analyst Food and Drug Department had sent out a warning about counterfeit Head and Shoulders, Pantene Pro V and Olay Total Effects 7 in 1 products on the market. In a release, the department said ANSA McAl Trading had lodged a complaint with the department and an investigation was launched.

Harper said samples of the imitation products were sent to the Procter and Gamble Products Company for testing. The results confirmed that it was counterfeit, she said, while noting that it was alarming that it was very difficult to identify the fake products.

“It is so unscrupulous to the extent that they are actually defrauding the actual consumer,” she said, stating that ANSA McAL has seen a 25% decrease in sales for the Head and Shoulder products. She said the company has also seen a 30% drop in Heineken sales and she said the beer is also being counterfeited.

The fake products are believed to be sold in prominent supermarkets across the country, said   the ANSA McAL       Public Relations Officer Darshanie Yussuf. She said they were aware of the names of manufacturers of the counterfeit products but could not disclose it because the matter was being dealt with by the Food and Drug Department and the Guyana Revenue Authority.

The release from the Food and Drug Department said that the counterfeit Head and Shoulder products were being sold at less than 70% of the price of the real product.

An analysis conducted by Proctor and Gamble and shown to Stabroek News, revealed that even though the products appeared to be identical, the batch number and expiry date of the counterfeited product are on the bottom of the bottle while the real product has this information on the back label.

The tests also confirmed that the active ingredient— Pyrithione Zinc—which is found in the Head and Shoulders shampoo to eradicate dandruff, was absent in the fake product.

When the original and fake products were tested, the original product turned black due to the presence of the ZPT chemical while the other product remained the same. There were also differences in the colour, texture and scent of the two products.

The Pantene Pro V counterfeit product was sold at a cheaper price and the Pantene logo was absent on the cap of the shampoo.

Further, the net contents of the counterfeit product reads 400 ml while the genuine item reads 12.6 fluid ozs or 357 ml. The counterfeit product gives details on how to use it but without a pictorial representation while the real product gives details on the use plus a pictorial representation.

The counterfeit Olay TE moisturizer is being sold for $700 while the real item is being sold at $4,292. The price for the counterfeited Olay TE dual kit is $1,000 while the genuine item is being sold at $5,104. On the front label of the counterfeit product, the phrase ‘Anti-aging fragrance free moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 15’ is missing but is present on the label of the real product. Further, the counterfeit product has no information on active ingredients or directions for use but these are present on the genuine product. The counterfeit Olay is labelled 50g while the real product is described as 1.7 fl ozs (50ml) and 6.7 fl ozs (192ml).

The report stated that the colour, texture and smell of the counterfeit Olay TE moisturizer did not correspond to the original product.

The Food and Drug Department has since urged consumers to pay keen attention to labels and said that it is in the process of instituting legal proceedings against those who deliberately release counterfeit goods on the market.

Steps are also being taken to revamp the licensing process to ensure that only those who are in full compliance with the guidelines are issued with import licences.

In a release ANSA McAL Trading said that the fake products poses severe consequences for the company and customers.

“As the authorised distributor in Guyana for Procter & Gamble, Heineken and Glaxo-SmithKline (GSK), Novartis, Alcon, Grace Kennedy, amongst many others, with brands such as Olay, Head and Shoulders, Pringles, Monster Energy Drink, Ariel Soap Powder, Tropical Rhythms, Bumble Bee, Squezy, Panadol, Andrews etc, we can only guarantee quality, freshness and the integrity of the products and brands we represent,” the release said.

The statement said that the counterfeited products often remain with the importers longer than is recommended and after it eventually expires it is sold at ridiculously cheap prices.

“Counterfeit drugs raise major public health concerns as their quality, safety and effectiveness are unknown. Furthermore, there is the longterm reputation damage to genuine products and trusted brands that is caused by counterfeit brands when people are not aware of a fake vs. a real product,” the statement said, adding that the manufacturers and distributors of the counterfeit goods are not only defrauding consumers but are also putting their health at risk.

“Additionally, some wholesalers/outlets are willing to take the risk of both buying and selling these products to consumers who trust them,” the release said. “We at ANSA McAL are determined to raise the awareness of these goods by educating our consumers about the dangers of using these counterfeit goods and work along with the Government Analyst Food & Drug Department and the Guyana Revenue Authority to curtail the selling of these items,” it further stated.

The company also urged consumers to report counterfeit products to the relevant authorities.

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