Pilot Program Tests RFID

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

An important pharmaceutical trial kickedoff last month in New Jersey at CardinalHealth's label-printing facility in Moorestown.The company's 2-month pilot program willtest radio frequency identification (RFID)throughout the drug supply chain. The razorthintags are applied to product and shippingcontainers for the purpose of tracking andidentification. RFID is seen as a measure tofight counterfeiting, reduce slowdowns in thesupply chain, and make it more difficult for USdrugs sold at a discount to foreign distributorsor pharmacies to make their way back intothe United States.

"Our pilot is unique from some otherpilots because it is the first one to track theRFID tags in the supply chain from end toend," explained Troy Kirkpatrick, companyspokesman.

The pilot involves 2 products: a brand namedrug from a mid-size pharmaceutical firm anda generic. Citing confidentiality agreements,Cardinal could not reveal more about theproducts. The RFID tags will be applied to bottlelabels, cases, and palettes of drugs duringthe trial. Cardinal will track the tagged shipmentsas they travel through company warehousesin Philadelphia, Pa, and Findlay, Ohio,and land at an unnamed retail pharmacy. Thetags will have data that could include theproduct's manufacturer and expiration date.

The Moorestown-based facility's involvementwill be the implanting of small transponders—radio devices that send the informationthey contain, when asked by a reading device,into rolls of labels to be shipped to Cardinal'spackaging warehouse in Philadelphia, wherethe labels will be affixed. The company wantsto see how well the tags will be read as thepalettes go through a large data-readingdevice and onto trucks.

The products will then be shipped toCardinal's distribution center in Ohio. Themedications will be scanned on arrival andbroken down so that the individual containersof pill bottles can be delivered to thetest pharmacy. The RFID readers will beused 2 more times on the bottles: leavingthe distribution center and arriving at thedrugstore. The contents will then be distributedin untagged consumer pill bottles.