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THE PHARMA REVIEW (JUNE 2008)

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) - A Technical Remedy for Counterfeiting in Pharma Industries

Roopa S. Pai, and V. Kusum Devi

Introduction: Words like “counterfeiting” and “out of stock” are anathema to any industry, but for pharmaceuticals the implications are particularly significant. Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, has the potential to nearly eradicate such issues. The idea of tagging and tracking the whereabouts of drugs is quite complicated, but RFID could play a pivotal role in overcoming the above problem.

RFID technology uses RFID tags affixed on cases or consignments and a serialized Electronic Product Code (EPC) for identification to facilitate detection of counterfeit pharma drugs and medical supplies globally. This benefits all the stakeholders like pharma manufacturers, health regulators and the pharma distribution chain covering chemists and druggists, stockists and most of all-the consumers. RFID helps in optimising supply chain, which would enable to achieve 30 percent stock reduction, 30 percent increase in value added time and seven percent reduction in supply chain costs.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an auto-ID system. Automatic identification, or auto ID for short, is the broad term given to a host of technologies that are used to help machines identify objects. Auto-identification is often coupled with automatic data capture. To identify items, the information about them is captured and then the data is fed into a computer without having employees input. The aim of most auto-ID systems is to increase efficiency, reduce data entry errors, to make it more difficult for illegitimate and rogue operators to develop entry points within the distribution network and to facilitate verification of a product's chain of custody. The technologies that fall under the auto-ID umbrella are bar codes, smart cards, voice recognition, some biometric technologies (retinal scans, for instance), optical character recognition (OCR) and radio frequency identification. (RFID)

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