Counterfeit drugs are a continuing problem, and they are rampant in some parts of the world. As counterfeiters become more
sophisticated, new measures are needed to stymie them.
High-precision laser technology permanently marks foil with fine-line graphics, text, logos, or other microimages during the
rolling process. Marked foil is virtually impossible to duplicate and can be made in almost any gauge or alloy. It also converts,
lacquers, laminates, coats, prints, and slits like standard foil ("CPI Security Foil," Constantia Hueck Foils, Wall, NJ).
Another high-tech solution creates a digital fingerprint of the packaging for later reference by capturing an image of a specific
area at speeds as fast as 15 items/s. The digital image can be stored in a database, converted to a numerical code, and printed
as a two-dimensional barcode to serve as the unique item-level identifier required for pedigree records. Authentication is
possible at any point in the supply chain using a handheld reader–verifier ("Biometric Authentication," Cortegra Group, Parsippany, NJ).
Cortegra's "Biometric Authentication" transforms information embedded in the structure of a package into a digital signature
more distinctive than a fingerprint.
Nanomolecular particles incorporated into paper, adhesive, ink, or other packaging material offer counterfeit protection at
a cost of fractions of a cent. The tiny particles function as a synthetic DNA and can be detected and read by a proprietary
scanner to authenticate products instantly ("Nano-molecular Forensic Marking System," ATL Security Label Systems, Menomonee Falls, WI).
Med-Health Pharma (Las Vegas, NV), a drug repackager that provides medication in 10- to 30-count packaging for dispensing in physicians' offices,
recently began using packaging with invisible markers to prevent counterfeiting and fraud. "Authentication is very important
for our industry, and this solution allows us to aggressively confront the issue of counterfeit products that risk innocent
lives," says Sam Haddad, vice-president of operations at Med-Health Pharma.
Low levels of tiny mineral markers can be added to virtually any packaging component or material. The markers can be incorporated
into ink, toner, varnish, paper pulp, plastic, adhesives, and metals. Detection and authentication are accomplished with a
special reader tuned to the mineral and particle level. The marker and reader can provide various levels of security, including
basic pass–fail authentication, and can capture and verify a particle image ("Traceless System," Kodak Security Solutions,
Eastman Kodak Rochester, NY).
Security labels, tapes, bags, seals, and pallet-protection devices from a cargo-crime specialist protect unattended assets.
Multiple technologies such as microprinting, special adhesives, and sequential numbering provide a layered solution. Security-tape
options include silicone coating with a reverse-printed sequential number every 9 in. to prevent undetected removal and replacement
of the tape. A numbered clip that crimps on at the intersection of two bands of pallet strapping incorporates a similar approach
(tamper-evident labels and tapes, "Topp-Clip" pallet protection, CGM Applied Security Technologies, Farmingdale, NJ).
Another company that advocates a layered approach to product security offers overt, covert, forensic, and track-and-trace
technologies such as fine-line printing, color-shift coatings, holograms, infrared-and ultraviolet-detectable taggants, and
fluorescence ("N'Crypt" overt and covert printed security features, other security features, Alcan Global Pharmaceutical Packaging, Kirkland, Canada).
A permeable, flexible, spunbonded polyolefin allows users to pack more desiccant in less space than is possible with the traditional
rigid plastic desiccant canister. The flexible container is printed with the message "Do Not Eat" in several languages. The
unit was created from a single web of material in a patent-pending form–fill–seal process. It maintains the same diameter
as the rigid canister and handles the same way on high-speed dispensing equipment. Because the flexible canister is shorter,
it occupies less space and represents a weight savings of about 50%. The cost of the form–fill–seal design is comparable with
that of a rigid canister. The flexible design eliminates the dusting and lost caps that sometimes affect a rigid canister.
Desiccant options include silica gel, clay, and a 50/50 silica gel–clay blend in 1–3-g sizes. All components are classified
acceptable for food contact under 21 CFR ("CanPack" desiccant canister, Aridien, Belen, NM).
A fifth-panel carton design involves applying the product insert to the inside of the panel during the carton-conversion process,
thus eliminating the need to apply it on the packaging line. Once the carton is erected, the scored panel seals the insert
in place. A die-cut window displays the barcode on the insert for quick identification ("Insert 2.0," Pharmagraphics, Greensboro, NC).
Hallie Forcinio is Pharmaceutical Technology's Packaging Forum editor, 4708 Morningside Drive, Cleveland, OH 44109, tel. 216.351.5824, fax 216.351.5684, email@example.com