Protecting the Public - Pharmaceutical Technology

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PharmTech Europe

Protecting the Public
Overt and covert packaging technologies evolve to authenticate drugs and fight counterfeits.


Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 36, Issue 11

Taggants. Taggants are microscopic/nano materials or chemistries that are uniquely encoded and virtually impossible to duplicate—like a fingerprint. The invisible taggants work at a low loading ratio yet are identifiable in the field via a handheld tester. Taggants can be delivered in raw material, plastic masterbatch, security ink, or spray carrier. Some taggants make it possible to detect mix ratios and dilution as low as 10% (Molecular Taggants, Microtrace).

Some taggant technology can be paired with smartphone authentication, thus eliminating the need for proprietary readers and opening the door to consumer-level authentication (TagSure taggant technology, SmartSure phone app, InkSure Technologies).

Taggant-equipped labels and cartons can be printed with invisible ink and item-level codes for authentication (taggants and inks, Covectra, labels and cartons from MSO Group). Software makes the covert technology compatible with serialization and track-and-trace requirements (AuthentiTrack software, Covectra).

Ink-based approaches. A technology with some similarity to taggants adds a standard or custom DNA strand to a visible or invisible security ink applied by a continuous inkjet printer. To authenticate the product, a sample is extracted from the printed component, loaded into a PCR reaction plate, and analyzed to confirm the presence of the DNA (Security Fluids, Oncode, a division of Gem Gravure, with DNA strands from DNA Technologies, a division of Polestar).

Another covert solution prints an invisible pattern of seemingly random microdots along with other graphic elements. A standard office scanner captures the resulting image for storage on a secure server and future authentication via an iPhone app (Cryptoglyph covert printed patterns, Genuine or Fake iPhone app, AlpVision).

Visible color security inks for continuous inkjet printers can be matched to a brand’s logo or other graphic elements, so brand owners can add security features without noticeable changes to the package’s appearance. A clear version of the security ink is also available. Proprietary markers in the ink are only visible to a custom reader (Traceless System, Eastman Kodak).

Continuous inkjet printers also apply unique codes or other data with ultraviolet (UV) inks. The covert codes can support authentication and track-and-trace functions (Linx Clear UV-readable inks 1121 and Linx 4900 CIJ printer, Linx Printing Technologies).

Another UV-based solution applies UV-ink-printed roll-fed labels to syringe barrels during the molding process. Labels are placed within +/- 0.010 in. to ensure dosage markings are accurately positioned. The in-mold labeling process eliminates the need for a secondary pad-printing or labeling operation (in-mold labeling cell, CBW Automation, 45-micron labels, Inland Label).


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