Electronic Screen for Counterfeit Rxs in Pharmacies

Ken Rankin
Published Online: Friday, July 1, 2005

Citing an "immediate danger of counterfeit medicines entering the US supply chain,"representatives of the nation's pharmaceutical manufacturers called on the nation's pharmacies to employ "electronic authentication technologies"to protect the public against fake drugs.

In a new "White Paper"issued by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), drugmakers specifically endorsed the use of "2-dimensional bar codes and radio frequency identification [RFID] tags to secure the US drug supply against counterfeit threats."

More than a year ago, the FDA had endorsed an electronic solution to the counterfeit drug problem, noting that the use of RFID technology to establish an "electronic pedigree"for medications would represent the "single most powerful tool available to secure the US drug supply."

PhRMA, however, had argued that the creation of an electronic pedigree system able to track the distribution of drugs from manufacturer to patient "is likely to be complex and not fully achievable for 5 or more years."In the interim, the association urged government and industry to "make progress in adopting electronic mechanisms that will permit the real-time authentication of prescription pharmaceutical packaging directly at the dispensing level."

Authentication of drug products at the pharmacy level can have an "immediate and lasting impact on patient safety."Authentication can be accomplished over the short term by using "mass serialization and available electronic technology, such as bar coding or RFID tags,"PhRMA officials said.

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.

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