The Food and Drug Administration announced an initiative to stimulate use of radio frequency identification, or RFID, to secure the nation's drug supply, bringing the industry a step closer to a 2007 target date for adopting the electronic tagging technology. The FDA initiative includes publishing a Compliance Policy Guide to make it easier for drug companies to pilot RFID without fear of violating labeling regulations and good manufacturing practices. The FDA also created a workgroup to monitor adoption of the technology.
Simultaneously, three pharmaceutical companies announced RFID initiatives to block counterfeiting. Pfizer said it will place RFID tags on all bottles of Viagra in 2005. GlaxoSmithKline said it will begin using RFID tags in the next 12 months to 18 months on at least one product susceptible to counterfeiting. Purdue Pharma said it will tag bottles of OxyContin and, based on availability of tags, of a newly approved pain reliever, Palladone. The FDA has backed RFID as a way to ensure that drugs are authentic and ease product recalls because the technology creates an "electronic pedigree" of a drug's movement through the supply chain. More information can be found at the FDA's Web site. -- by Cinda Becker