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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Heavyweight Protection

Dr Andrew D Dubner, at 3M explores the value of programme investment in the pharmaceutical supply chain

A software-based secure tracking system and associated security labels provide two benefits to the pharmaceutical supply chain: strong protection against the introduction of counterfeit product and other objects that are intended to cause harm; and monitoring products as they flow through various channels.

Yet it is worth noting that a secure tracking system uses a unique and secure identifier – such as alphanumeric numbering – to track the location of items. A number can be assigned to an individual item, a group of items in a larger package and/or multiple packages in a larger grouping.

The unique identifiers can be input into the tracking system using RFID, barcodes, manual entry or any combination thereof. Tracking items at various points in the supply chain allows the reconciliation of items shipped and items actually received. Encrypting the unique identifier and/or printing the identifier on security labels can help protect the unique identifier against unintended use.

Beyond protecting the unique identifier, security labels help discriminate between authentic and non-authentic items. Overt, covert and forensic security features provide increasing levels of protection. In addition, tamper indicating seals can be used to determine whether a package has been opened, causing its contents to be suspect. A security solution provider should work with the pharmaceutical company to perform an analysis of its supply chain to ensure that the optimal security solution is implemented.

SECURITY TECHNOLOGY SELECTION AND VERIFICATION

The process of problem analysis helps determine the point(s) in the supply chain at which the product or box authenticity should be examined. Once these points are identified, the type of technology and the verification procedures can be selected. The team must consider many factors, including the type of threat being protected against, the size of the population expected to verify product authenticity, the tools available to authenticate, access to the secure tracking system and the impact on productivity of all of these procedures.


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Dr Andrew D Dubner is a Senior Specialist with 3M Security Systems Division. He has a strong technical background in materials science and engineering, including expertise with thin film optics, materials systems and security taggants. He is the co-developer of a covert anti-counterfeiting system for the direct marking of branded products. Andrew holds a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the co-inventor of five patents and the author of numerous technical publications.
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Dr Andrew D Dubner
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