It is now obvious: the same bad actors that turned the supply chain of medical devices and PPE to a hell on Earth, have now set their eyes on the COVID-19 vaccines. Not a day passes without me seeing an offer for ten-millions, even hundreds of millions of vaccines. And it also seems nowadays that every broker is best friends with the Russian Direct Investment Fund or the Serum Institute of India. (Much like every broker was best friend with 3M’s Board of Directors back in the summer…)
Just yesterday evening I had a heated call with a broker group. The guy who put me in this uncomfortable situation, Pavlidol, was introduced to me by a colleague earlier. He knew that the company of my family is in the pharmaceutical business, and out of good-will he thought, this might be a good match. So the broker, Pavlidol, claimed to have access to the following: 20 million AstraZeneca vaccines, 10 million Moderna vaccines, 20 million Pfizer vaccines, and 20 million Sputink vaccines, all of them on a monthly basis. Now normally I do not fall for this type of obviously fake offers, but because he badgered us for days, I convinced myself to give him a try and join him for a Zoom call.
So what happened on the call with the brokers?
Arriving to the call, I found myself, my colleague and 4 completely unknown people, and Pavlidol was not even one of them. I immediately recognized the familiar structure of the infamous rabbit holes of PPE business. After introducing myself, my colleague draw my attention that the brokers are secretly recording the call, without my knowledge. For the record: already this is a clear violation of the GDPR in Europe.
But then the real show started. I asked them whether the selling company holds a license for the wholesale of human medicine (WDA) and immunological products. The “seller”, who turned out to be a “representative of the seller” (in other words: another broker who may or may not know someone he perceives as a seller), first made some ridiculous claims that they are supplying medicine to 26 000 pharmacies in Italy (which is strange, since Italy has only 19 000 pharmacies…), and afterwards asked me to sign an NCNDA (why does he need that if he is an authorised representative?), and submit my documents, namely LOI, LOA, ICPO… Remember this article? It is the same pattern as with PPE.
I told them that I will not give them any document or sign anything without first receiving the WDA of the seller – for this they reassured me that these will be submitted during an A2A call in a later stage of the process. And after I refused to comply to these terms, they lost their mind: I got called rude, arrogant, un-professional for requiring the most imperative document of pharmaceutical trade. I left after 27 minutes. My colleague was smarter: he quit after 20.
Why was I reluctant to follow their procedure?
To explain this, let us assume for a brief moment that I have no experience with these scams, and I am tasked by my local government to procure vaccines. I agree to all their terms, I submit my documents to them, and what happens? They will start running around in the brokersphere, sending my information and my authorization from the government to hundreds of other brokers, and maybe they find something or start to delay the process.
The other danger (besides the leaking of confidential documents to hundreds of people) is that such papers often get recycled. After a few weeks, they get modified by other brokers that want to pose as buyers and fish for a supplier: they edit the date and names on the PDF, and the newly made fake request starts to live a life on its own. Which is very problematic since we are talking about governmental documents.
And finally: broker chains are huge timewasters. It takes extreme time and effort to dig down to the source (if there is indeed some seller or buyer), one needs to sit through all these weird Zoom calls, must issue weird documents that can be used to scam others, and they pose a serious threat to the integrity of the pharmaceutical supply chain.
The sad conclusion
These brokers obviously think that vaccines and other pharmaceutical trade works the same as PPE trading. They even texted me afterwards “All the standard mask and glove procedure was switched to vaccines. The fact that documents are required is normal practice.” This is complete and utter nonsense. In our 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical business, not even one company has ever asked us to sign an NCNDA or issue an ICPO, especially without sending a Full Corporate Offer first, nor wanted anyone of them to hop on an A2A call for submitting a document that is publicly available on the internet (WDA’s in Europe can be found in the EUDRA database).
And at this point I have to mention: PPE trading does not require these documents as well; all the real sellers of PPE I have encountered usually just require a plain Purchase Order to initiate the procurement process. However we know what type of people require these documents: joker brokers. They need it as a fuel to run around in their underground network. But since these fraudsters usually never complete a deal (since there is no buyer or seller just an endless legion of other brokers), they are not aware that with requesting these documents they immediately expose themselves. So be cautious out there: joker brokers are on the loose scamming governmental buyers for the vaccines… and I fear they intend to overstay the welcome in this industry.