The technology relies on the fact that every single piece of paper has a unique identifying property, like a fingerprint, Yann Boutant, president and CEO of Signoptic, and developer of the technology, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com at this year's Interphex trade show in Philadelphia, where it was being launched. "There is no chance that two different pieces of paper or cardboard materials can have identical configurations," he said. Boutant used this information to develop an authentication system that reads a paper material's fingerprint and creates a unique digital signature. According to Cortegra, this digital signature can be created by them on behalf of its clients when printing their labels, or by pharma firms and contract manufacturing organisations themselves during the secondary packaging stage, or anywhere along the supply chain, although it is best undertaken on the packaging line so that manufacturers can verify exactly what they are sending out, in which case they would license the technology from Cortegra. Its use comes into play in situations such as suspected lots of pharmaceuticals, or in the case of a supply chain diversion, as a field representative can determine the product's authenticity by scanning the packaging and detect whether its pre-recorded digital signature is still present. The digital signature can be encoded within either a 2D bar code or a radiofrequency identification (RFID) tag and so the firm is hoping that it will eventually be used routinely at the retail level, as is being done with some luxury good items in Europe. "The technology is ready but now we need to engage the whole supply chain, from manufacturers to pharmacy retailers," said Narendra Srivasta, new business development director at Cortegra. "We are anticipating that we will have a handful of clients using the system by the end of the year." The technology has been used in the European pharmaceutical industry, among others, for the past three years but until now, Signoptic has had no US presence, hence the new partnership. "It has been received extremely well so far because you can't duplicate it," said Boutant. Srivasta added that because the digital signature is based on the unique structure of the packaging material, the technology is much more significant and secure than RFID in terms of authentication purposes. "RFID is a supply chain solution, not an authentication solution, and so the two technologies can work together side by side."