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IBM Unveils RFID Tags For Pharmaceutical Industry

With the goal of protecting consumers from counterfeit drugs, IBM has announced an RFID system to track drugs that can change hands as often as ten times from the point of manufacture to the point of sale. Counterfeit drugs are a large problem with nearly 8% of the world's prescriptions proving counterfeit each year according to IMB. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cited RFID as the most promising technology to ensure that the medicine in the bottle is exactly what the doctor ordered.

"We hold the security of the nation's drug supply as a top priority and have taken several leadership steps to ensure a safe and secure supply chain," said Renard Jackson, executive vice president for Cardinal Health. "As part of a multi-pronged approach, RFID is a promising technology that has the potential to add an additional layer of security and improve efficiency across the entire supply chain, which is why we have partnered with leaders like IBM in a pilot program to determine its feasibility and effectiveness in a real-world setting."

The IBM RFID system for pharmaceutical track and trace application uses blended RFID software and services to automatically capture and track the movement of drugs through the supply chain. RFID tags are embedded on products at the unit, case and pallet levels and authenticate the product from manufacturer to wholesalers to hospitals and pharmacies. Each tag contains a unique identifier -- like a license plate -- that can be linked back to descriptive product information such as dosage and strength, lot number, manufacturer and expiration date.

In addition to consumer protection, the IBM-developed RFID system helps manufacturers and distributors improve performance by reducing the cash tied up in inventory.

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