/publications/issue/2005/2005-01/2005-01-9111

FDA Will Fight Rx Counterfeiting with RFID Packaging

Author: Ken Rankin

High-tech radio frequency identification (RFID) systems will be employed to improve the safety and security of the nation's drug supply under a new initiative launched by the FDA.

RFID prescription drug packaging systems use electronic tags similar to the technology used for tollbooth and fuel purchasing passes to allow manufacturers and distributors to more precisely keep track of drug products.

Several top pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Pfizer, Glaxo-SmithKline, and Purdue Pharma, have already announced plans to place RFID tags on certain drug packages intended for sale in the United States as a deterrent to counterfeiting.

"Radio frequency identification technology is an innovative response to the challenge of counterfeit drugs," said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "It is our goal to ensure that the drugs available in the United States are among the safest in the world."

RFID technology also creates an "electronic pedigree," or record of the chain of custody, from the point of manufacture to the point of dispensing. According to the FDA, these electronic pedigrees will improve patient safety and protect the public health by allowing pharmacists and wholesalers to quickly identify, quarantine, and report suspected counterfeit drugs.