Hoping to put a dent in the growing supply of counterfeit drugs distributed every year, IBM Tuesday unveiled a radio frequency identification (RFID) system that will be used to track and trace pharmaceuticals.The system will use blended RFID software and services to automatically capture and track the movement of drugs through the supply chain, IBM said.
RFID tags are embedded on products at the unit, case and pallet level and authenticate the product from manufacturer to wholesalers to hospitals and pharmacies. Each tag contains a unique identifier that can be linked back to descriptive product information such as dosage and strength, lot number, manufacturer and expiration date.
“IBM’s extensive experience with RFID has demonstrated that this technology has unique capabilities to offer in helping protect drugs from tampering,” said Mike Ricci, pharmaceutical supply chain leader, IBM. “And in an industry that lives depend on, IBM is leading the way to a safer, more secure supply chain.”
The system makes it more difficult for counterfeit drugs to get to market, which is vital in a world where nearly one in 12 of the world’s prescriptions proving counterfeit each year. Indeed, the Food and Drug Administration has cited RFID as the most promising technology to ensure that the medicine in the bottle is exactly what the doctor ordered.
From the point of manufacture to the point of sale, drugs can change hands as many as 10 times. IBM said its software and services are designed to help manufacturers protect product from theft and fraud and avoid replacement costs for product recalls and tarnished brand value. The IBM-developed RFID system can also help manufacturers and distributors improve performance by reducing the cash tied up in inventory, streamlining shipping and recalls and enabling faster response to market demand.