RFID project extended in Germany

Related tags Supply chain management Blood

As the pharmaceutical industry gears up to use radiofrequency
identification for supply chain management, medical suppliers in
Germany have already adopted the technology to track blood products
and no plan to use it safeguard quality.

The world's top two pharmaceutical companies - Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline - and smaller player Purdue Pharma unveiled their plans for RFID last week​. But the success of the German project and the recent pilot study​ conducted by Accenture could encourage more companies to follow their lead.

The project is already using RFID labels to identify bloodbags for transfusions and will start using temperature monitoring tags next month or early in 2005, according to UK-based packaging consultancy Pira.

Project Blood Ident is being run by the German Red Cross Blood Donation Service in Saxony, and got off the ground last November. During the past year the project has been testing the suitability of RFID technology as a traceability tool, compared with the barcoding technology currently used.

Dr Ralf Knels, of the Red Cross said that the initial order for tags will be around 2000. They are to be supplied by Dresden-based KSW Microtec, which makes the TempSens range of temperature-monitoring labels.

Earlier this year, KSW launched a new version of the TempSens - called the VarioSens - which has more onboard memory, which will add to its flexibility. For example, it will not lose data if its battery runs out of power, and it will be programmable with a number of commands. The new product is aimed at blood products, temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and perishable foods.

Some of the impetus behind the project has come from EU Directive 2002/98/EC, which states that blood supply services must set up a donor identification system. A unique number is given to each bloodbag donation and its derivative products, such as plasma, which provides a traceability mechanism for the blood used in a transfusion right back to the donor. The information must be kept on record for at least 30 years.

Blood is very sensitive to changes in temperature. The shelf-life of blood can be affected if it is not stored within strict temperature parameters, 2°C and 6°C. Red cells are destroyed if they are kept below freezing. The maximum shelf-life for a blood donation is around 30 days.

Pira noted that if the RFID technology works then the final step will be to extend it to hospitals in order to ensure that patients are given the correct blood in transfusions.

Related topics Drug Delivery QA/QC

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