Radio ID Tags For US Drugs (RFID) (cont.)

Most RFID tags do not have their own power supply. The radiofrequency query induces a tiny electrical current in the antenna, permitting the tag to send a brief response, usually just an ID number.

Such RFID tags are quite small. The smallest tags that are now commercially available measure 0.4 0.4 mm and are thinner than a sheet of paper. They start at about $0.40 (40 cents) a tag.

Tag on Viagra

By outfitting drug packages with RFID tags, companies could trace the path the drugs take from the time they are produced to the moment they are dispensed, according to a FDA report in February.

Among the medicines that will get an RFID tag is Viagra (sildenafil). The drug for erectile dysfunction (impotence ED) is one of the most widely counterfeited drugs in the world.

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The following is excerpted from press release P04-103 issued by the FDA on November 15, 2004:

FDA Announces New Initiative to Protect the U.S. Drug Supply Through the Use Of Radiofrequency Identification Technology

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today stepped up its efforts to improve the safety and security of the nation's drug supply through the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. FDA launched this effort by publishing a Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) for implementing RFID feasibility studies and pilot programs that are designed to enhance the safety and security of the drug supply. This action continues FDA's commitment to promote the use of RFID by the U.S. drug supply chain by 2007.

RFID is a state-of-the-art technology that uses electronic tags on product packaging to allow manufacturers and distributors to more precisely keep track of drug products as they move through the supply chain. It is similar to the technology used for tollbooth and fuel purchasing passes.

The FDA also applauded the initiatives announced by the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Purdue Pharma. Pfizer announced its plans to place RFID tags on all bottles of Viagra intended for sale in the United States as expeditiously as possible in 2005. GlaxoSmithKline announced that it intends to begin using RFID tags in the next 12 to 18 months on at least one product deemed susceptible to counterfeiting.

Purdue Pharma announced that it is placing RFID tags on bottles of OxyContin to make it easier to authenticate as well as track and trace this pain medication. Based on the availability of sufficient RFID tags, Purdue also plans to tag bottles of Palladone, a newly approved product to treat persistent, moderate to severe pain. Oxycontin, which is a controlled substance has been subject to abuse as well as theft and diversion. FDA also acknowledged the leadership of Johnson & Johnson in establishing standards for RFID technology and participating in RFID pilot studies. Johnson & Johnson will continue to collaborate with industry partners to develop standards for ePedigree.