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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Level RFID Tagging on Frequency

Joseph Pearson, from Texas Instruments Radio Frequency Identification (TI-RFidTM) Systems, explores why the pharmaceutical supply chain needs an RFID tag data security infrastructure

As the number of counterfeit, gray market and diverted products continues to climb, a major goal for the pharmaceutical industry is to improve consumer confidence in the authenticity of its prescription drugs. Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology can be combined with a highly secure tag and data infrastructure to provide the required packaging authenticity and pedigree, while creating new business opportunities. Unfortunately, while manufacturers, distributors and retailers continue to expand collaborative RFID projects with common goals, they are not all working along the same lines when it comes to implementation.

The pharmaceutical industry needs to create a secure supply chain using RFID technology at the item-level, as part of a broader and more flexible approach – one that encompasses all the requirements of manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies and end-users and offers a wide range of implementation options.

One of the main aims in the industry is to develop a new standard for item-level tagging (ILT). This paper proposes the requirements for ILT deployment and lays the foundation for a tag data security infrastructure (TDSI) to meet these requirements. It defines the key deliverables and outlines the requirements of this ‘common’ industry-wide approach. The TDSI is designed to expand and unify the industry’s information technology systems by incorporating both centralised and decentralised deployment options.

THE TAG DATA SECURITY INFRASTRUCTURE

Operational Requirements
A standard electronic product code (EPC) number should be programmed onto the tag as the basis for pharmaceutical product identification. The TDSI can be used to incorporate both network and off-network capabilities that support the available infrastructure in the pharmaceutical supply chain ecosystem. For example, to answer the question of where product data (NDC) should reside (on the tag or not) the TDSI can accommodate both scenarios by providing options as to how the EPC number contains product data, either encrypted on the tag or accessed through a network link. In the network scenario, a new version of an EPC numbering scheme is introduced which contains no product information in the data structure of the EPC. Here, the tag’s product data is held in a central database where it is referenced by the EPC number as a unique pointer.


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Joseph Pearson is a Business Development Manager for Texas Instruments RFid Systems, focusing on pharmaceutical and authentication. In his 15 years in the RFID market at Texas Instruments, he has held a variety of sales, marketing and business development roles. He was instrumental in the development of several RFID patents including the ExxonMobil SpeedpassTM.
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