RFID system gets £15m push to market

Related tags Pharmacy

A pilot programme looking at how radiofrequency identification
(RFID) can be used in pharmacies to pick up counterfeit medicines
is to be developed into a commercial product, reports Phil

The programme, unveiled in March​ by PA Consulting company Aegate, showed that wrongly selected, illegal, expired and counterfeit medicines can be identified at the point of dispensing, with minimal interruption of the day-to-day running of the retail pharmacy.

As a result, PA Consulting is to invest £15 million (€22m) over the next 30 months in bringing Aegate's 'authentication at the point of dispensing' service to market, according to Aegate spokeswoman Alison Williams. This is one of the largest investments ever made by the firm in its technology portfolio.

"We now have funding to move ahead with full-scale implementation of the solution. This is great news, not just for us, but for industry and patients as well,"​ she told In-PharmaTechnologist.com.

Aegate's pilot, run in association with British Telecom and courier company DHL, has shown that mass serialisation of medicines - combined with a simple scanning process - can greatly reduce the risk of dispensing the wrong, or illegal medicines to patients.

Using the system, pharmacists scanned the items using the laptop-based system designed by Aegate (pictured) and were presented with a visual display of the data held in the system about the product batch, including the expiry date. This meant that as well as detecting fraud, the system was able to pick up expired or short-dated products at a glance - a feature held up as one of the most popular benefits of the technology by the pharmacists in the pilot study. They also liked the way the system could be used by drug companies to communicate breaking safety information.

The cash injection will provide sufficient funding to roll out Aegate's commercial service in the UK, and to begin developments in other countries.

Aegate believes the technology could be a potent weapon in the fight against medication errors - which cause 11 per cent of hospital admissions in the UK - and medicine fraud, expected to cost a staggering $68bn by 2009, according to market research conducted by Navigant Consulting.

Related topics Drug Delivery QA/QC

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