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Shares tumble after CSIRO-linked company announces inquiry

Linton Besser (via SMH) | April 15, 2013
DataDot Technology Limited, a CSIRO partner company which knowingly sold a compromised anti-counterfeit device to one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, has announced a top-level inquiry into the affair, as shares in the company fell dramatically in trading on Monday morning.

CSIRO

DataDot Technology Limited, a CSIRO partner company which knowingly sold a compromised anti-counterfeit device to one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, has announced a top-level inquiry into the affair, as shares in the company fell dramatically in trading on Monday morning.

 

In 2010, DataDot’s joint venture with CSIRO, DataTrace DNA Pty Ltd, signed a five-year deal with Novartis to supply a custom-designed high-security "tracer" - to be manufactured by the CSIRO - to protect the company’s range of injectible Voltaren from the booming black-market trade in fake medicines.

The tracer was a microscopic phosphor-based powder mixed into ink and painted on to the neck of hundreds of millions of ampoules. The luminescent chemical was meant to emit a unique light frequency which could be identified with a hand-held portable spectrometer.

 

But a Herald investigation revealed last week that the company misled Novartis and instead issued it with cheap chemicals it had bought from China which were widely available at the time.

Shares in DataDot Technology were down 28 per cent in the first hour of trading on Monday, hitting 1.8¢ a share. Its market capitalisation fell accordingly from $12 million before the market opened to $8.7 million.

DataTrace’s key scientist, Gerry Swiegers, who had begun work on the project as a CSIRO employee, had repeatedly told the company not to proceed with the sale of the bulk tracer, warning of "life-and-death implications" should the drug be targeted in a counterfeiting attack.

Hundreds of people have died in recent years from the administration of fake medicines. Last year, Interpol and drug companies launched a co-ordinated strike force against counterfeiters, resulting in 80 arrests across the globe.

 

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