To help the pharmaceutical industry combat drug counterfeiting, IBM launched an electronic pedigree system Thursday that tracks medications through the supply chain until they reach consumers.
The system employs radio-frequency identification, or RFID tags, which are already used to track packages of drugs, especially ones popular with counterfeiters. Pfizer, for example, uses RFID chips to track packs of its erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, and Purdue Pharma has been using them since 2004 to track its pain reliever OxyContin.
IBM's ePedigree system helps drug companies create electronic certificates of authenticity for medicationsdown to the individual bottleas they move from manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies and hospitals.
"The whole time, the system is watching what's happening, it records (the drug's) life history," said Chris Clauss, director of sensor information management at IBM Software.
While there is no guarantee that RFID tags will get rid of all counterfeits, he added, "what we can do is raise the bar," and make it substantially more difficult.
Read more (registration may be required).