Pilot electronic pedigree project takes off in US

Related tags Pharmacology

SupplyScape, a US company specialising in developing track and
trace technologies for the pharmaceutical industry, has teamed up
with IT consultancy UniSys to set up a pilot study of SupplyScape's
electronic pedigree for drugs, reports Phil Taylor.

In March, SupplyScape raised $7 million in a private financing to fund development of the technology, which aims to evolve into a universal, electronic drug pedigree system, with radiofrequency identification (RFID) and bar coding at its core, that will protect against product counterfeiting and diversion.

The pilot study will be the first step in demonstrating that the system can secure the flow of prescription medicines from factory to pharmacy counter, according to SupplyScape president Shabbir Dahod. The companies anticipate that the project will lead to the establishment of a national standard tracking system, which could help increase consumer safety and stem pharmaceutical companies' growing losses from fraud.

It will track the distribution of one of Purdue Pharma opioid analgesic products from the manufacturing facility to the seventh largest wholesaler in the US, HD Smith.

Aaron Graham, Purdue's vice president and chief security officer, said: "By partnering with H.D Smith in this pilot protocol, we hope to create a model that the industry can follow."

Purdue has been one of the most vigilant pharmaceutical companies in the fight against counterfeiting and diversion. In November 2004, the company became one of the first to provide fully integrated, anti-counterfeiting packaging designed to protect prescription pain medicine against counterfeiting and diversion by launching a pilot program to integrate RFID tags into its product labeling. Initial shipments of the RFID-tagged bottles were sent to Wal-Mart and HD Smith.

The pilot will track drug distribution. Using self-authenticating pedigrees, Purdue and HD Smith will authenticate, certify and verify a positive match between drug and pedigrees.

"By next year, laws in several states will dictate that all drugs must have pedigrees, but until now companies have been unclear exactly how to comply,"​ said Dahod. "With our system ready to go, customers have asked us to help accelerate their electronic pedigree deployments."​One state that has been an earlier adopter of drug pedigrees is Florida, although it has met resistance from drug wholesalers who say the paper-based system is cumbersome and expensive to implement. An electronic system would

Currently 31 of the most-often counterfeited drugs sold in Florida are tracked all the way from manufacturer to pharmacy. The law requires that all drugs be tracked starting July 1, 2006.

Robert Kashmer, vice president of IT at HD Smith, said the new electronic pedigree project is "a first step toward pedigree compliance when we open our Florida distribution centre later this year."

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