As part of its service to the University Hospitals Health System (UHHS), Pharmed is implementing radio frequency identification (RFID) for high-end medical devices that move through its Flexible Service Center. Besides providing information to UHHS, the RFID solution — developed in partnership with Visible Assets — delivers greater peace of mind to the manufacturers of expensive implants since it provides them with complete visibility via the Internet of their products when they are put in transit, received at the hospital and then pulled for a medical case.
“We started with very small boxes of very high value,” says Jay Pierce, Pharmed's president of U.S. operations. “Stents, for example, have a $3,000 per unit cost. They need to maintain a temperature between 59 and 86 degrees F. With our RFID tags installed, we can track its temperature, if it's dropped, when it's opened and when it's implanted.”
Pharmed's RFID solution is also applied to such devices as pacemakers and heart valves.
According to Joe Jiner, director of business development for RFID for The Kennedy Group (www.kennedygrp.com), pharmaceutical manufacturers will use RFID to track product and to insure that it is a true product. He has seen some pharmaceutical companies seeking to take their RFID-tagged products right into hospital destinations.
Kennedy Group has established an extensive RFID testing facility designed to help clients meet the toughest Electronic Product Code compliance requirements at the item level as well as case and pallet.
Meanwhile, UPM Rafsec (www.rafsec.com) is supplying 100,000 RFID label transponders to South Korea-based Unimed Pharm Co. Ltd. during 2004.
The transponders will be attached to the inside of caps for pharmaceuticals by means of a permanent adhesive. One use of the tags will be to reassure consumers that they are purchasing authentic, not counterfeit, drugs.
By connecting the RFID system to Unimed Pharm's enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, the manufacturer will be able to track in real time its distribution operations from initial production through its distribution and wholesale suppliers to the final retail customer.