Securing Pharmaceutical Glass Containers

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-02-02-2011, Volume 35, Issue 2

Anticounterfeiting solutions for vials and syringes.

Implementation deadlines for California's ePedigree program are now four years away for pharmaceutical manufacturers. The state's mandatory plan for serialization and traceability of item-level packaging is an important step toward improving supply-chain safety. Manufacturers must begin to roll out serialization starting in 2015, followed by wholesalers and repackagers in subsequent years.



A cutting-edge solution for the serialization of glass containers for the pharmaceutical industry uses a laser-coding system that places an identifying mark on individual vials, syringes, or ampoules that does not compromise the stability of the glass. An attractive feature of the system is that it easily integrates into existing production lines. A collaboration between Roche Diagnostics, SCHOTT forma vitrum, SCHOTT-Rohrglas, Seidenader Vision, and Vesdo developed such a solution, which places a 2D barcode containing identifying information, such as batch number or the date and location of manufacture, on a container.

Another coding system for glass containers uses a laser to place logos, alphanumeric text, and 2D barcodes below the surface of the glass, which makes counterfeiting the information extremely difficult. Using a femtosecond laser and proprietary marking technology, TRACKinside's unique identifiers "are made by changing the refractory index inside the glass, which creates a permanent, indelible, and highly readable set of codes," says Adrian Simmons, marketing manager at TRACKinside.

The marks are easy to read, and covert marks that require the use of a scanner for authentication can also be used. The solution is designed for containers made of clear and colored glass as well as clear plastics. The company's laser systems feature marking speeds of up to 10 products per second. TRACKinside's process does not alter the surface of the container or produce microcracks, which would weaken the glass. Because no inks or additives are used, there is no chance of contamination of the product, which means additional FDA approval is not necessary, says Simmons.

TRACKinside's item-level serialization solution provides traceability and authentication capabilities plus added security for pharmaceutical glass containers because the marks are hard to fake. "In addition to product and client information, each 2D barcode can have hidden coded elements therein, as an extra anticounterfeiting feature," Simmons says. He added that "the possibility that counterfeiters can copy this technology is remote."