Product security and quality control were major themes of this year's Interphex trade show, held April 26–28 in New York City. A variety of interesting packaging machinery innovations were featured at the event.
Counterfeiting and diversion have become top concerns for pharmaceutical manufacturers as counterfeiting technology becomes more sophisticated, the incidence of fake products increases, and organized crime and terrorists turn to counterfeit goods to generate cash flow. Most experts recommend layering protective technologies by selecting a combination of overt and covert techniques. To provide track-and-trace capability, especially for Class II drugs, some drug manufacturers have begun to include radio frequency identification (RFID) tags at the item level.
Overt technologies are readily visible and include features such as holograms or color-shifting ink. Covert technologies are not visible to the naked eye and include the use of security markers, or taggants, which can be mixed with inks, coatings, or the packaging material.One taggant solution consists of using particles half the diameter of a human hair to create a code that is revealed by a special microimaging reader and software. These taggants can be made from food-grade materials such as cellulose or gelatin and can be incorporated into the packaging in various ways, such as:
The taggant can be customized to create a unique signature for the product. Authentication can occur on three levels, including simple presence detection with an off-the-shelf scope, pattern matching of the cell-like taggant with a camera-based system, and the removal of the taggant to confirm its identity (Invisible Security Marker, Adhesives Research, Inc., Glen Rock, PA, http://www.adhesivesresearch.com/) Invisible Security Marker Micro-Imaging Reader, Complete Inspection Systems, Inc., Indiatlantic, FL, http://www.completeinspectionsystems.com/).