Tagging Tools to Provide E-Pedigree - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Tagging Tools to Provide E-Pedigree
The pedigree requirement soon will take effect, and members of the pharmaceutical supply chain have little time left to comply.


Pharmaceutical Technology


Since completion of the pilot, H.D. Smith has equipped its distribution center in Pompano Beach, Florida with RFID technology and implemented an e-pedigree system at the same facility ("SupplyScape E-pedigree" software, SupplyScape).

Cardinal Health (Dublin, OH) also is studying e-pedigree technology. Smart labels are converted at the company's printed components facility in Moorestown, New Jersey and shipped to Cardinal's packaging facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On the packaging line, labels are encoded with item-, case- or pallet-level EPC information. Tagged products are shipped to a Cardinal Health distribution center in Findlay, Ohio, then sent to a healthcare provider that uses the same data collection and transmission technology as the Findlay facility (RFID tags, hardware, software, Alien Technology Corp., Morgan Hills, CA; integration, IBM, Richmond, VA; project management, VerSign, Inc., Mountain View, CA).

Item-level serialization

Item-level serialization begins with a unique code reproduced as a two-dimensional bar code or encoded in an RFID tag. Many drug companies are using both in their item-level tagging and e-pedigree pilots.


The "Rafsec Mini" label fits in the small spaces on pharmaceutical containers.
The bar code most commonly discussed for item-level tagging is the two-dimensional, checkerboard-like Data Matrix code. Other options are available, however. One translates codes into unique printed marks comprising a series of lines that look a bit like an arrangement of pick-up sticks thrown on a table. These codes can be printed on virtually any surface. They can be virtually invisible or as large as desired. Reading is done by imagers or cameras at speeds of as high as 200 containers per minute, even if the contrast between code and background is low ("2DMI" marks, Orbid Corp., San Francisco, CA).

Pharmaceutical manufacturers must decide between high-frequency (13.56 MHz) or UHF tags and have several choices for item-level applications (Item-level RFID tags, ADT Security Services Inc., a unit of Tyco Fire & Security, Boca Raton, FL; Avery Dennison RFID, Westlake Village, CA; Omron RFID, Schaumburg, IL; TAGSYS, Inc., Doylestown, PA; UPM Raflatac, Tampere, Finland).


"West Spectra" vial-closure system incor-porates RFID tags and spectroscopic inks.
Purdue Pharma and Cephalon, Inc. (Frazer, PA) have studied UHF tags, while Pfizer (New York, NY) opted to use 13.56-MHz smart labels on bottles of "Viagra" (13.56-MHz tags, TAGSYS, Inc., smart label converter, West Pharmaceutical Services, Lionville, PA).

Some UHF Gen 2 designs now appearing on the market incorporate new chips. Designed especially for asset tracking and capable of carrying more data than the EPC alone, a chip incorporates 64 bits of user-rewritable memory. Chip memory can be programmed and read repeatedly or can be locked to prevent subsequent alteration ("Monaco/64 Chips," Impinj, Inc., Seattle, WA).

RFID tags for item-level applications typically take the form of smart labels, but sometimes are built into the container itself ("RFID Embedded Packages," Owens-Illinois Healthcare Packaging Inc., Toledo, OH, see "Interphex Focuses on Counterfeit Prevention," Pharmaceutical Technology, June 2006).


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