Cardinal Health, Inc. (Dublin, Ohio), a provider of products and services supporting the health-care industry, announced the next phase of the first end-to-end pilot program to test technology that could improve the safety and efficiency of the nation’s drug supply. The pilot program will begin to tag medication with labels carrying unique data that can be captured and read to verify its authenticity at each step of the supply chain.
Verifying the authenticity of pharmaceuticals along each step of the distribution path adds an additional layer of security to lessen the chance of counterfeit pharmaceuticals entering the supply chain. In addition, the data gathered could improve efficiency as logistics experts at Cardinal Health will be able to analyze the data to identify bottlenecks, read rates and other opportunities to improve efficiency in the supply chain.
"Cardinal Health is the first company in health care to comprehensively test RFID technology at the unit level in a real-time setting, beginning with product labeling and packaging, and then as it travels through the distribution center to when it is received by a customer," said Renard Jackson, executive vice president of packaging services. "The layer of security and the operational efficiencies this technology adds to the pharmaceutical supply chain would benefit drug manufacturers, pharmacists and ultimately consumers."
In conducting the end-to-end pilot program, Cardinal Health will use new technology to place RFID tags on the labels of brand-name and generic solid-dose prescription drugs at the company’s Printed Components facility in Moorestown, N.J. Next, the company’s facility in Philadelphia will encode the electronic product code (EPC) standard data at the unit, case and pallet levels during the packaging process. The products will be then shipped to a Cardinal Health distribution center in Findlay, Ohio, where the data will be read and authenticated as products are handled under normal operating conditions. Normal operating procedures will be enhanced with RFID hardware and software from Alien Technology Corporation and IBM along with project management support from VeriSign.
From Findlay, the tagged product will be sent to a health-care provider to further test read rates and data flow using the same technology as the distribution center. The product dispensed to patients will not be in the RFID packaging.
The company launched the pilot in February and expects to complete the test in the fall. In addition, Cardinal Health is working with Pfizer on a separate RFID pilot to authenticate Viagra shipments at its Findlay facility.
Source: Cardinal Health, Inc.